Why write a literature review? Writing a literature review can be an excellent option to share the latest information on a subject you feel passionate about.
Sometimes, completing a study on a topic that has already been extensively researched doesn’t make sense. Instead, writing a literature review can be an intelligent way to share your knowledge on a topic while also providing insights into areas within your topic that could use additional research. When you write a literature review, you’re not developing new information. Instead, you’re compiling existing information while looking for commonalities and contradictions between studies.
Here, we’ll look at six reasons why you might want to write a literature review.
When you’re passionate about a topic, or you’ve spent extensive time learning about something new, it can be exciting to compile your knowledge, especially if you’re nearing the end of a course of study. A literature review allows you to share the knowledge you’ve gained from reading academic studies. While your literature review can show your professor all that you’ve learned over a semester, it can also be a valuable resource to others.
A literature review gathers all of the information on a topic in one place, helping those new to the subject get an idea of the current research. In addition, reading literature reviews can provide people with limited subject knowledge with a quick overview of the topic and a general understanding of the current research.
2. Identify Gaps In Current Research
When you complete a literature review, you’ll likely come up with some questions as you delve into the research that’s already been done on your topic. Frequent literature reviews can help alert researchers to gaps that are currently existing in the research. Even though gaps in the research aren’t typically a part of a literature review on a topic, it can be a good idea to make a section in your literature review to discuss places where more research is needed. This shows your audience or your professor that you haven’t just paraphrased current research–you’ve also taken the time to think through the areas of research that are left empty.
If you’re considering a move into academia, awareness of gaps in the current research can also help you develop your areas of research interest. You may want to consider reaching out to current expert researchers to learn more about studies that are currently in the works to see if the gaps that you notice in current research have already been addressed.
3. Enlighten Readers On A New Topic
When writing a literature review, you’re doing the hard work it takes to become an expert on a subject. Unfortunately, many people find it difficult to understand scientific research studies. So while it’s likely that you’ll use some quotes from research studies to make points within your review, you’ll also put information into your own words. Taking a step back from trying to decipher scientific jargon can help readers who don’t usually delve into scientific research understand complex, complicated topics.
It’s critical to be aware of your audience when you’re writing a literature review, as you’ll want to be sure you’re meeting them where they are. If you’re writing a review on a topic, your audience is deeply familiar with. You’ll be able to get away with using similar language to researchers. If your audience is unfamiliar with the topic, you’ll need to take complicated study topics and break them down into a format that anyone can understand.
You’ll also want to break down the statistics of research studies in a way that people unfamiliar with research studies can comprehend. For example, saying that a research study had statistically significant results is often not the same as saying a research study has results with real-world implications.
Be sure to think about what it was like before you understood how to dissect research studies, and work to ensure that your audience will be able to understand your review. Often, young college students struggle to grasp entirely new concepts. Publishing a literature review can help people new to a topic get a broad understanding of current research in the field. This can be especially helpful for students who are working to balance a full course load and struggling to complete all the reading required for their classes.
4. Ensure Your Research Is New
There’s nothing worse than getting curious about a topic, starting to develop a research study, and finding that another researcher has already answered your question. When you complete a literature review, you can help stop yourself and others from reinventing the wheel.
Gathering all the literature on a topic in one place means no confusion about what research has already been done. You and your audience can use the information in a literature review to help you decide what next steps make sense in your area of expertise. For example, you may decide that it’s time to create a study with slightly different variables or that research would benefit most from moving in an entirely new direction. At the end of your literature review, you can add a section that discusses your thoughts on how research on the topic should continue.
5. Publicize Experts On A Topic
People who spend their lives working in academia often struggle to get the notoriety they deserve, despite spending countless hours working for the betterment of society. When you write a literature review, you’re helping to publicize the names of the people working hard to further the public understanding of scientific topics.
You must be careful to cite all of your sources in your literature review and that your works cited page is accurate. This helps your readers learn more about particular research studies and quickly locate the information you used to create your literature review. Sending authors featured in your literature review a copy of the review can b a kind gesture to help them see that their research is being read and appreciated.
6. Document Faulty Research Methods
When you read research studies as you’re completing your literature review, it’s wise to question the methods used for each study. This can give you some insight into the gaps in the current research, as well as how things can be changed so that researchers can learn more about the topic.
Changing certain variables within a body of research can significantly impact the outcome, and understanding what needs to be changed to move the body of knowledge forward can help shape the direction you’d like to go in your academic career. Just like learning more about studies already in progress, you may want to reach out to study authors to ask them questions about their methods. Understanding their methodology’s thinking can help shape how you approach your literature review and future studies.
To learn more, check out our guide on how to write a literature review!
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