How to Write a Literature Review | Guide, Examples, & Templates

What is a literature review? A literature review is a survey of scholarly sources on a specific topic. It provides an overview of current knowledge, allowing you to identify relevant theories, methods, and gaps in the existing research that you can later apply to your paper, thesis, or dissertation topic.

There are five key steps to writing a literature review:

  1. Search for relevant literature
  2. Evaluate sources
  3. Identify themes, debates, and gaps
  4. Outline the structure
  5. Write your literature review

A good literature review doesn’t just summarize sources—it analyzes, synthesizes, and critically evaluates to give a clear picture of the state of knowledge on the subject.

    We’ve also compiled a few examples, templates, and sample outlines for you below.

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    How to Avoid Plagiarism | Tips on Citing Sources

    Plagiarism means using someone else’s words or ideas without properly crediting the original author. Sometimes plagiarism involves deliberately stealing someone’s work, but more often it happens accidentally, through carelessness or forgetfulness.When you write an academic paper, you build upon the work of others and use various credible sources for information and evidence. To avoid plagiarism, you need to correctly incorporate these sources into your text.

    How to avoid plagiarism?

    You can avoid plagiarism by:

    1. Keeping track of the sources you consult in your research
    2. Paraphrasing or quoting from your sources (by using a paraphrasing tool and adding your own ideas)
    3. Crediting the original author in an in-text citation and in your reference list
    4. Using a plagiarism checker before you submit
    5. Use generative AI tools responsibly (outputs may be detected by an AI detector)

    Even accidental plagiarism can have serious consequences, so take care with how you integrate sources into your writing.

    Continue reading: How to Avoid Plagiarism | Tips on Citing Sources

    APA 7th edition: The most notable changes

    APA Manual 7th edition coverIn October 2019, the American Psychological Association (APA) introduced the 7th edition of the APA Publication Manual, which replaces the 6th edition published in 2009.

    In that time a lot of things have changed. Citing online material has become more common, the use of inclusive and bias-free language is increasingly important, and the technology used by researchers and students has changed.

    The 7th edition addresses these changes by providing better and more extensive guidelines. This article outlines the biggest changes that you should know about.

    Continue reading: APA 7th edition: The most notable changes

    Research paper

    A research paper is a piece of academic writing that provides analysis, interpretation, and argument based on in-depth independent research.

    Research papers are similar to academic essays, but they are usually longer and more detailed assignments, designed to assess not only your writing skills but also your skills in scholarly research. Writing a research paper requires you to demonstrate a strong knowledge of your topic, engage with a variety of sources, and make an original contribution to the debate.

    This step-by-step guide takes you through the entire writing process, from understanding your assignment to proofreading your final draft.


    Structure of a Dissertation

    A dissertation is a long-form piece of academic writing based on original research conducted by you. It is usually submitted as the final step in order to finish a PhD program.

    Your dissertation is probably the longest piece of writing you’ve ever completed. It requires solid research, writing, and analysis skills, and it can be intimidating to know where to begin.

    Your department likely has guidelines related to how your dissertation should be structured. When in doubt, consult with your supervisor.

    You can also download our full dissertation template in the format of your choice below. The template includes a ready-made table of contents with notes on what to include in each chapter, easily adaptable to your department’s requirements.

    Download Word template Download Google Docs template

    “Thesis” and “dissertation” are sometimes used interchangeably, but their definitions differ per country.

    • In the US, a dissertation generally refers to the collection of research you conducted to obtain a PhD.
    • In other countries (such as the UK), a dissertation often refers to the research you conduct to obtain your bachelor’s or master’s degree.


    An academic essay is a focused piece of writing that develops an idea or argument using evidence, analysis, and interpretation.

    There are many types of essays you might write as a student. The content and length of an essay depends on your level, subject of study, and course requirements. However, most essays at university level are argumentativethey aim to persuade the reader of a particular position or perspective on a topic.

    The essay writing process consists of three main stages:

    1. Preparation: Decide on your topic, do your research, and create an essay outline.
    2. Writing: Set out your argument in the introduction, develop it with evidence in the main body, and wrap it up with a conclusion.
    3. Revision: Check your essay on the content, organization, grammar, spelling, and formatting of your essay.

    In this guide, we walk you through what to include in the introduction, body, and conclusion of an academic essay, using paragraphs from our interactive essay example.


    Plagiarism means using someone else’s work without giving them proper credit. In academic writing, plagiarizing involves using words, ideas, or information from a source without citing it correctly. In practice, this can mean a few different things.

    Examples of plagiarism Why is it wrong?
    Copying parts of a text word for word, without quotation marks It makes it seem like these are your own words.
    Paraphrasing a text by changing a few words or altering the sentence structure, without citing the source It makes it seem like you came up with the idea, when in fact you just rephrased someone else’s idea.
    Giving incorrect information about a source If readers can’t find the cited source, they can’t check the information themselves.
    Quoting so much from a source that it makes up the majority of your text Even with proper citations, you’re not making an original contribution if you rely so much on someone else’s words.
    Reusing work you’ve submitted for a previous assignment, without citing yourself Even though it’s your own work, the reader should be informed that it’s not completely new but comes from previous research.
    Submitting a text written entirely by someone else (e.g., a paper you bought from a ghostwriter) Not doing the work yourself is academically dishonest, undermines your learning, and is unfair to other students.