Top Tips to Avoid Common Errors When Composing Literature Reviews

“Creativity requires input, and that’s what research is. You’re gathering material with which to build.”

  • Gene Leung Yang (Asian-American cartoonist)

In the pursuit of higher academics, we must cross many a hurdle to reach the objective of our research for further knowledge in our respective disciplines. Composing research papers and dissertations thus need a clearly outlined plan that formats all the chapters in a coherent order and write the paper following all the scholastic guidelines accepted all over academia. Since a dissertation is an elaborate academic document with many sub-sections, each needs to be composed to perfection for your research paper to turn out just the way eminent academicians like it.

One such essential section within a well-composed dissertation is the literature review that is an in-depth summary and evaluation of the works of erudite scholars in your discipline or specialisation. It requires the researcher to always be on their watch for the most relevant prior research conducted within their areas of expertise, and call for a sharp and keen mind who can unearth the key concepts of the discipline. In order to compose a winning literature review for your dissertation, you must have a clearly detailed plan or roadmap that will help you to include all the most important and relevant summaries of the most compelling reads that have parity with the topic of your dissertation.

Errors to avoid while composing literature review

Most students find it quite confounding while trying to write an engaging literature review for it requires a unique set of analytical skills and writing dissertation acumen. Even if they have a proper plan in place for composing their dissertations, executing it becomes quite difficult for them from to time as they are mostly unsure of what to include and what to filter for composing a literature review that is sure to leave its mark among all the other chapters in a dissertation. Here are some of the most typical mistakes that students are prone to making while composing their literature reviews, and an overview of how they are easily avoided.

The most typical mistakes that students are prone to committing while composing literature reviews are mainly of the following three categories.

  • Structural and Elemental Mistakes
  • Issues of Credibility and Validity
  • Shortcomings in Academic Writing and Stylistics

All the three categories of mistakes and the ways to avoid them are discussed below. Pay heed to them and there will not be another minute that you have to worry about not having a precise literature review for your research paper in place before it is time to turn in the paper.

  • Structural and Elements Mistakes

  • Improper organisation: Not organising the literature review section properly within your dissertation is one of the commonest mistakes that students make. Organise your literature review in order of the relevance of the points that are to be included in the section. Following a coherent, each argument and the author should have a separate paragraph in your literature review. Thread the arguments within a common chain of logic that follows the rational order and organise your literature review accordingly.
  • Including irrelevant content: While including a world of knowledge and insight is tempting within your literature review section, do know which ones to filter out. Having tonnes of irrelevant content in the literature review of your academic research paper shows that you have gotten too caught up in your research to have had a proper focus in place. Avoid such a common error simply by deftly editing and revising the section after composition and excluding all the irrelevant content from it.
  • Unclear background and definitions: Since composing a literature review involves so much of critical thought, the students often overlook the commonest of things. Including a proper introductory part at the beginning of the main body of the literature review is imperative. The students must include all the key operational definitions used within the body of the literature review in the introduction to the chapter itself. Supplying one or two lines of background information is also preferable in this section of your dissertation or any academic research paper.
  • Issues of Credibility and Validity

  • Usage of non-scholarly references: Perhaps the cardinal sin in writing a literature review, usage of non-scholarly sources is an amateur move indeed. Including articles from the Internet, that claim to share professional opinions is absolute no-no. Include only those articles that are part of a scholarly journal online or have some academic credibility behind them. Otherwise, your research stands a chance of falling through on the literature review section due to lack of depth of research.
  • Having a narrow focus: Writing a literature review with a narrow focus is yet another one of those typical mistakes that are best avoided. If you only include narrowed-down research focusing on your subtopics, then the global appeal of your research will be lost. Try starting off with general research on the same discipline to put your topic into perspective and then follow it up with more narrow research.

  • Having a biased focus: Another common mistake that students are often prone to committing is to include one-sided arguments that highlight their take on the topic while sidelining other similar research. Taking a biased approach in your literature review gives away your credibility as a value-free researcher and that is not quite a comfortable spot in academia. Avoid including only those researches that side by your point of the view on the topic. Instead, include all the approaches that have yet been covered on the specific area of research. This way, the readers will find a universal appeal of the topic.
  • Basing it on direct quotations: While it is tempting to use direct quotations for your literature review for most of the part to save you from the trouble of having to summarise it all, it is actually the sign of a poor writer if you fill it up only with quotes directly lifted off from other eminent scholars. Try using a mix of both and strike the perfect balance of including quotes strategically within your summary to make each section of the literature review an interesting read.
  • Shortcomings in Academic Writing and Stylistics

  • Having a personal point of view: Always remember that literature review section in your dissertation is where you discuss and explore the work of other researchers within your field. That is why, it is best not to have or express your personal opinions about the topic in the literature review. The best way to go about this is to filter all the sentences in the literature review section that do not belong to the part of some eminent researcher’s work that you have to summarise for this particular section of your study.
  • Usage of emotional language: The usage of emotional language through phrases and sentences is almost a taboo in academic writing. For the literature review section of your dissertation, the tone needs to be more formal than ever. That is why, steer clear of using emotional phrases and sentences no matter how much passionate you are about your area of research.
  • Improperly referencing: Knowing how to reference is one of the beginner’s lessons in the pursuit of higher academics. Yet, many students make the mistake of improperly mentioning the authors’ first and last names inside the body of their papers such as the literature review section. Know how to reference and cite the authors’ names inside the body of the text and follow the referencing format to include the name of the author and the year of publication in your list of references afterwards.
  • Inserting hypertext inside literature review: Mentioning long-winded URLs is the sign of an amateur at work. Avoid such rookie mistakes and try citing the source using the authors’ last name(s) and the year of the publication of work. After that, mention the full URL against that citation in your paper.
  • Unintentionally plagiarising: Sometimes students commit plagiarism without even knowing that they are doing it. This is quite common and happens because either they bring in unjustified claims or they do not put reference numbers for direct quotations used within the body of the paper. Doing away with these two factors will automatically do away with committing unintentional plagiarism in the academic papers.

If you are wondering how to get your literature review done just right for your dissertation or academic research paper, then try going by the tips that we have suggested and avoid the most typical mistakes that most students make. Be that student who stands out in class with a well-organised dissertation having a rocking literature review. These tips are sure to assist you in tackling the critical literature review section for your dissertation like a pro! Happy writing!

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