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How to Write Literature Review

The body, structure and functioning of a literature review resembles the structure, the methods and working of a computer program or software to the degree that one input some kind of information, to give off a product that specifically explores the ideas of other researchers, finds common areas of agreement and disagreement and derives the relevance of other people’s work to a research. Then a critical analysis that points on the way forward is charted.

Our present article is about how to prepare a literature review outline from the perspective of fulfilling the demands of a hypothetical content creation program. The article is divided into modules that exact certain kinds of information from us and shows how these modules are designed and how they work together to form an outline for a literature review.

What is a Literature Review?

A literature review is an activity that a researcher or student conducts after an application of certain rules based on a specific outline. For example, if one took a sample of different literature review outlines, one is likely to find that there are common patterns regarding the content and the main subdivisions that hold the distinct but interconnected content. In this case, we’ll model our work on the APA Literature Review Outline. That is the outline is the interface to the program. Here, then, is how to write literature review outline.

Expectations of the Literature Review Outline

A sample of an APA literature Review Outline begins with the following commands/expectations:

Defining the Problem in the Literature Review

The APA literature review sample begins by posing the following questions regarding the main subject/ investigation at hand:

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Surveying the Relevant Literature from the Review Outline

Once the problem has been identified, then the APA literature Review Outline demands that one consults with various writers and thinkers for the information they have.

Best practice is to have a kind of record, most preferably in table format where a writer, the reference of the book, argument by the writer, and an evaluation of what the writer has presented.

One should also be careful in noting the credibility and relevance of the writer and the topic presented. Once you are certain of the credibility and relevance it’s advisable to write down the references on a flash card with each reference citing and paraphrasing the authority.

Care should also be taken about the recentness of the works consulted. A general rule is that the sources shouldn’t be more than 5 years old.

Narrowing the Focus for the Literature Review Outline

An outline for literature review demands then that one distills the topics and issues found in the literature research and reading. This is most advisable after a sufficient sample of literature has been referenced on the flashcards mentioned above.

By arranging and rearranging the flash card around key issues and finding out the areas of intersection and areas that are distinct from each other, one can have a shift of focus to the common areas and still go further and retain the issues that are immediately linked to the main issue under investigation.

For example, the broader issue could be the prevalence and causes of misdiagnosis of psychological conditions in general practice as a psychologist. A wide sample of reading could come up with the many different factors leading to misdiagnosis.

But then the main topic could be distilled further from the positions of the different authorities and focus on the factors that may be relevant and restricted to the work ethic of the practitioners involved.

Analysis Technique Prescribed by the Sample Literature Review Outline

Each argument in the literature review is divided into 5 major sections:

Proper Citation of Authorities as Per APA Literature Review Outline Standards

The APA standard stipulates that citation is made by stating the name of the writer, the year of publication then the title of the publication made in italics, followed by the city and state of the publisher and finish with the name of the publisher.

For example; Nash A D (2015) ‘The Practitioner under scrutiny’ Newark, Mindwork publishers.

Once the above directives have been followed, one is ready to write them down and communicate the thoughts and ideas gathered in the preliminary task. Like all other kinds of essays, the literature review outline is made up of:

The Preliminary of a Sample Literature Review Outline

One begins as usual, with a gripping statement of the main thesis to be advanced in the whole paper, then thematic areas are stated, the extent of coverage of the review revealed and the connections and relevance to the matter in question described.

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Illustration of a Model Preliminary Comment

There have been many explanations given for the rising rates in medical negligence advanced by different writers. Even though there’s wide coverage of relevant factors of explanation, our present review intends to cover the thematic areas of practitioner levels of stress and distraction and the interface between the practitioner and the available infrastructure for making diagnoses. While these thematic factors have also been used to explain other issues like job satisfaction among practitioners, this review is concerned with the way these factors contribute to patient mortality rates and disease complication.

This introduction may be divided into 3 parts.

  1. There have been many explanations given for the rising rates in medical negligence advanced by different writers. – This forms the general statement of the problem at hand
  2. Our present review intends to cover the thematic areas of practitioner levels of stress and distraction, and the interface between the practitioner and the available infrastructure for making diagnoses – Here we have the thematic areas for separate treatment and,
  3. This review is concerned with the way these factors contribute to patient mortality rates and disease complication – This is the narrowed down focus that the paper intends to work on.

The Main Argument of the Sample Literature Review

Once the thematic issues have been identified in the preliminary, then the task that follows is one of dealing with each thematic issue separately while linking it to the other issues and driving towards a conclusion.

The main strategy is to follow the following structure:

  1. State the main thematic issue
  2. Give relevant evidence as derived from the literature read
  3. Explore an analysis of the evidence and
  4. Show how this paragraph or argument is joined to the whole argument

This method is then repeated for any number of thematic areas to be covered and smoothened to form one cogent, and relevant argument.

A Sample of a Thematic Treatment Following the Literature Review Outline

Theme: Many cases of medical negligence are caused by the levels of stress experienced by practitioners

Evidence: Parker, Lee Chong et al (2016) states that general practitioner numbers relative to population have not only been increasing but that the increase has caused cognitive overload in the physicians. Nash Q T (2013) also shows that the experience of meeting people who are in suffering tends to create a subconscious effect of helplessness that removes the rigor for making proper diagnoses

Analysis: While contrary evidence has been given regarding the effects of seeing people in suffering by Loki B N (2017) It remains to be shown that there is no negative effect on a witness if an appalling or painful experienced is witnessed by a normal human.

Transition to next paragraph: It is our position that stress levels caused by huge patient numbers who are in suffering affect the psychology of the practitioner that one becomes insensitive to the importance of hope in treatment and that one is likely to misdiagnose a condition.

The Summary of a Sample Literature Review

Once the parts of the main argument have been stated and transitioned as illustrated above, it’s high time for one to write down the effective summary of the whole argument in a format that is similar to other kinds of essays from other essay writers. One should recapitulate on the main thesis using different terms and state how this conclusion facilitates future development of the topic at hand.


This article has given a sample of an APA literature review outline and the mechanics it follows as a module based program. It is our hope that you can inductively infer even through practice the thought process behind creating such an outline. Read through a literature review outline example or two to see how to bring these pointers to life.


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