You may be asked to write a literature review as one of your assignments, rather than as part of a dissertation. If this is the case, you’ve probably been given a general topic or title to help guide your literature search. For these assignments, try to rephrase your topic as a specific question – the idea here is that each paper you include in the literature review can then help you to answer a small part of this question.
For example, imagine that you have been asked to write a literature review on dogs.
This is a wide topic area that would be impossible to cover in one assignment. Instead, setting a research question on a more focused aspect of the topic will help you to find relevant literature and demonstrate your analysis skills (by breaking the topic down, you are already showing that you are a critical thinker!) You can then select the articles that help to provide an answer to the question you have set.
By introducing limits on setting, participants and intended outcomes for the literature review, it is possible to narrow the topic of 'dogs breeds' down to a more focused research question. Here are three possible titles for a literature review on this broad topic:
- What are the emotional and behavioral impacts of therapy dogs for autistic children?
- How might aptitude be tested and measured in puppies selected for guide dog training?
- What are the key success factors for dogs as social media influencers on Instagram and Facebook?
Your initial reading will help you to identify trends or themes in the literature that might help to focus your search. You can then follow the standard structure for writing a literature review, using the funnel structure from this guide.