A literature review shows the cumulative knowledge which is the conceptual framework your study is based. It gives an overview of prior research identifying the details of the need for your study stated in your introduction section.
It is common to present the literature with supporting articles that are the foundation for your hypotheses—your tentative answer to the research questions stating the relationship between variables (what we already know supports what you believe your hypothesized results will be). Providing definitions of your conceptual variables is needed.
Your lit review should develop a theory. To make a contribution to the literature, your idea needs to be articulated, organized, and connected in a way that suggests new directions for researchers, fills a gap in the lit. Ideas are not a theory, regardless of how original they are. To be a theory, ideas have to be presented with a clear logic and causal relationship among the variables studied.
As stated in Chapter 6, Matching Publication Sources, be sure to match your literature review to that of your target journal. Use the same literature title heading and any subheadings commonly used in the target journal (literature review, conceptual framework, theoretical development and hypotheses, theory and hypotheses). Match paragraph lengths and writing level and format hypotheses exactly like in the target journal. The number of your references should be in the same range as other articles in your target journal, unless it is a very new topic with limited prior research. Again, cite articles from the target journal.
Here are some do’s and don’ts when writing your lit review.
- Keywords. Do use keywords when searching for the literature you will include in your review.
- Target journal. Do review and emulate the lit reviews of articles you cite, and match the target journal lit reviews. As stated, be sure to cite articles from the journal you will submit your work to.
- Hypotheses. Do format your hypotheses in the same way as the target journal articles (Chapter 6 Matching Publication Sources).
- Relevant. Do cite all the “relevant” articles that relate to your study. An article is not a dissertation, so don’t reference irrelevant articles.
The above is an excerpt of Dr. Lussier’s book, Publish Don’t Perish. More points for lit review, along with 170+ tips to get published are included.