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How to find information for science or health based literature reviews

1 - Check the assignment brief

Check your assignment brief before you begin the write up process!

This guide has been written to support students undertaking literature reviews within the Departments of Biosciences and Chemistry, Allied Health Professions and Nursing. ​​​​

The guidance here does not replace any assignment specific requirements and you should always thoroughly read and understand what is required for your assignment before you begin writing.

 If you have any questions about the specific requirements of writing up your literature review, always check with the person that set the assignment or check your assignment brief!

2 - I am ready to write!

By this stage, you are likely to have completed your literature gathering and are ready to write.

You may be quite happy to get writing and have checked your literature review brief and know how to approach the write up.

If you are not feeling like this, we recommend you contact the Skills Centre. The Skills Centre is here to help students develop their academic skills. You could book onto workshops, forums and tutorials or take a look at the resources and study tips.

2 - Make sure your academic insight is evident in your writing

Here are a range of books and guides related to helping you develop your point of view in your writing.

You need to ensure that you move beyond descriptive writing and ensure that you are criticaly engaging with sources that relate to your literature review. Think about how you are going to use your reading in your literature review! 

If you need help with any aspect of writing, get in contact with the Skills Centre as they are experts in this area! You can find the Skills Centre guide to critical writing below.

This is a picture of a light bulb.                Activity 1: Take a look at a book related to critical writing or the critical writing guide to find out making sure your literature view includes your academic voice.

3 - How to review the literature

You have gathered your literature.

We have read a range of sources related to honey, silver and wound management. Our reading will have informed our findings about whether honey or silver is more effective for wound management. We now need to make the connections between the sources we have found and address the literature review question.

Your literature searching should have helped you identify:

  • the key developments and key papers.
  • you now know how this area of research has developed.
  • you are aware of any differing of opinion and gaps in the research.
  • you know how you are going to address your literature review question!

We now need to put the pieces together in a logical and argument building way to create our literature review.

This is a picture of a light bulb.                Activity 2: Go to and read the online Skills Centre: Literature review guide.

Hopefully, now you have considered the evidence, thought about how to structure the review and considered the top tips from the Skills Centre guide!

Now...you now need to put pen to paper or head to the computer and either start or return to the writing process! Good luck and get writing! 

4 - Am I the only one struggling to write a literature review?

If you feel like this, you are not likely to be alone because this may feel like a daunting task!

If you are finding it hard to write, let's try an activity!

This is a picture of a light bulb.                Activity 3: Take a look at this this video from Sage Research Methods Online.

The video also includes information about how to make sure you are adding critical insight into your literature review. If after watching, you are still finding it a little difficult to get writing, contact the Skills Centre for support and help.

5 - You must cite and reference the information you use!

You must cite and reference the information you use in your literature review.

Lets talk terms!

Referencing is the acknowledgement of the sources of the information, ideas, thoughts and data which you have used in your work.

Citing is referring to someone else's work or idea's in the main body of your work is known as 'citing'. It is often called in-text citing. This is what an author is doing when they list the author 's family name and the year of the source in your main text, e.g. (Gibbs, 2009) or 'according to Gibbs (2009) ...'

A reference is the details of a source which allows the reader of your work to see where you have gathered your information, and to find it. Different sources will have different elements you need to provide, but this will usually include the who, when what and where of the work.

A reference list is a list at the end of your work which  includes details of each source you have quoted or referred to in the body of your text. 

If you are unsure which referencing style applies to your literature review, check with the person that set the assignment or look at your assignment guidelines.

If you need help citing and referencing, try any of the following:

6 - Get feedback!

This is a picture of a light bulb.                Activity 5: Get feedback on your work before the assignment date gets too close.

Make sure you have time to act on the feedback to help you get the best possible grade for the assignment!

Check with the teaching team as there may be feedback opportunities before final submission.

Use Studiosity: the Studiosity service is available 24/7/365 days a year – you can take advantage of the writing feedback service up to 8 times a year.

Contact the Skills team for a one to one appointment to discuss your writing.

7 - I would like to know more...

Here are some useful books to help you think about your writing.

Take a break.

Congratulations you have completed the eleventh step.

No relaxation tip here as you have made it to the end of the practical sections of the guide! You now know what is expected when working on a literature review!