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Engineering Literature Review: Writing

This guide provides an overview of the engineering literature review and its place in a research project, thesis, or dissertation.

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Writing the review

As you write your review, consider these ways of expressing your ideas:

  • Compare and contrast views of different authors.
  • Criticize previous work.
  • Highlight gaps in existing research.
  • Show how your work relates to previous work.
  • Identify problems, conflicts, debates, gaps.
  • Define a research area in a new way.
  • Question previous results.

Content of a literature review

There are two primary ways to organize and structure a literature review: chronologically and thematically. A chronological literature review presents sources in the order of their publication. The thematic literature review groups sources based on themes, theoretical concepts, and topics that the author consider important to their research.

A literature review should include:

  • an overview of the subject, issue, or theory under consideration
  • group sources into categories and concepts (in support or against a particular position)
  • present connections between the sources
  • draw conclusions about those works that make the greatest contribution to the understanding and development of your subject