A good literature review is NOT simply a list describing or summarizing several articles; a literature review is analytical writing which proceeds to a conclusion by reason or argument. A good literature review shows signs of synthesis and understanding of the topic. There should be strong evidence of analytical thinking shown through the connections you make between the literature being reviewed.
Draft an outline for your review. Read more about developing an outline here at the Purdue OWL site.
Summarise and Synthesise
Consider a few different ways of prioritising or grouping the readings you will use.
1. Chronologically – Organising your sources by the date of publication can show how scholarly perspective on a topic has changed over time.
2. Thematically – Organising by theme puts all of the sources with a similar focus together, making it very easy to see where differences in perspective emerge.
3. Methodologically – Organising by method also puts similar sources together and illustrates what effect method has on final product.
There are many ways to organise your references, but most reviews contain certain basic elements.
Objectives - Clearly describe the purpose of the paper.
Background/Introduction – Give an overview of your research topic and what prompted it.
Methods - Describe step by step how your performed your evaluation.
Discussion/Body - The body contains the evaluation or synthesis of the materials. Discuss and compare common themes and gaps in the literature. You may also want to include a section on "questions for further research" and discuss what issues the review has sparked about the topic/field or offer suggestions for future studies.
Conclusion – A summary of your analysis and evaluation of the reviewed works and how it is related to its parent discipline, scientific endeavour, or profession.
As you write, stick to your outline and keep these tips in mind: