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Writing your literature review

Writing up your literature review will help you to clarify and synthesise the themes, approaches and methods that are most important to your research question.

In the assessment course, you are required to submit a separate literature review for feedback.

If you are not taking the assessment course, the ability to write a literature review is still an essential skill for developing a solid research proposal.

Your literature review should demonstrate that what you are trying to find out is unique and valuable, and provide a strong justification for how you’re going to go about it.

Your review should synthesise the most relevant literature on the topic (not everything you’ve ever read) and help you justify your research approach.

Writing your review is a chance for you to reinforce the message that your proposal is likely to meet a need. This might include building on what we already know, filling a gap in the body of knowledge, adopting a new and more critical perspective on something or tackling a problem.

So, when you’re writing your proposal, you’ll need to link what needs to be done to what you propose to do. Ideally, it should demonstrate that:

  • your research is worth doing right now
  • your proposed methods are more suitable for answering the kinds of question you have asked than any others
  • the answers to your questions will be valuable.

Ensure that your literature review pulls all of these threads together.

Your task

It’s time to practice developing your literature review.


Open your portfolio and navigate to the literature review section.

Select one of the questions you developed in the previous step and read through the most pertinent sections of two or three articles you found during Step 1.12 Performing a literature search.

As you do so, ask yourself the questions you’ve developed. After reading all your articles, provide a synthesised summary that compares and contrasts the different ways that the question can be answered. You may like to do this by writing notes; others prefer brainstorming tools such as a mindmap.


Let the group take a look at your synthesis by reproducing your notes or providing a link to your brainstorm in the comments section. You may like to do so in your portfolio.


Once you have shared your notes, brainstorm or link, take a look at someone else’s and give them your response to the following questions:

  • Is the sample section from the literature review clear, coherent and concise?
  • Does the synthesis demonstrate a range of ways or perspectives in which the question can be answered?
  • Does the sample section from the literature review point towards a way of understanding the underlying problem or answering the research question?

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This article is from the free online course:

Why Planning Your Research Matters

Deakin University