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Literature Review Outline: Useful Tips and a Step-by-Step Guide

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Literature Review Outline and Useful Tips
 krishna   Published On Sep 4, 2020 | Updated on Aug 8, 2022  Assignment  0

Dissertation writing is often considered one of the most challenging tasks in the academic field, not because it is so long, but because of the fact that it involves a bunch of complicated segments. Literature review happens to be one of those segments that students often struggle to deal with. If you are one of those students, this blog is just for you.

What Is a Literature Review?

A literature review is a comprehensive summary of the preview research works done on a particular topic. The literature review studies scholarly articles, books, journals and other sources relevant to the particular area of research that you have chosen for your dissertation. The reviews should describe, summarize, evaluate and discuss the previous research.

The purpose of this literature review is to offer a foundation of knowledge on the chosen topic. Moreover, the acknowledgment of previous research work helps the author avoid duplication. Also, this review may help the author find gaps in research, conflicts in past studies and the questions which were left from other research.

Why Is It Important to Develop a Literature Review Outline?

Like most academic documents, a literature review also needs to adhere to a proper structure and format. Developing a literature review outline beforehand provides a basic roadmap for the task. You can comply with the outline and produce a more structured and organized literature review.

Apart from giving the right shape to the review, the outline also keeps the author from adding unnecessary details in it. Since there’s a word limit for the dissertation, the author needs to be mindful about the length of the literature review as well. The outline makes that task easier.

Lastly, the outline ensures there's uniformity in every segment in the review. If a student starts to draft the literature review without any proper planning, he/she may end up writing about the previous research works in an inconsistent manner, which can affect the readability of the document.

Various Formats of a Literature Review Outline

Before we go to the discussion of how to develop an outline for the literature review, it is important to know about the different formats of literature review. Depending on the length of the literature review, you can use any of the following formats for your literature review outline.


This is perhaps the simplest approach towards building a literature review on a topic. In this format, you need to trace the development of the topic over the years in the order of their occurrence. Instead of simply listing and summarizing the sources in the chronological order, you should also focus on analyzing the patterns, key turning points and major debates that have made a significant impact on the chosen field of research.


If your research has led you to multiple sources with recurring central themes, you can arrange the literature review into subcategories that address different aspects of the topic. For examples, if you are reviewing literature about the inequalities in the income scale in West European countries, key themes such as the employment issues, competencies, gender bias, etc. will be evident.


In case you are gathering sources from different fields that use various research methods, you may need to compare the results and conclusions that come out of different approaches. You can choose to perform these following measures:

  1. See what results have come out of qualitative vs quantitative research
  2. Segment the literature into historical, sociological, and cultural sources
  3. Discuss how the topic has been dealt with in empirical vs theoretical studies


A literature review often provides the foundation for a theoretical framework. In this approach, you can discuss different theories, models and various definitions of major concepts in the field of discussion. You can argue about the relevance of a particular theoretical approach or may combine different theoretical concepts to create a framework for the research.

As you can see, the nature of your research and the sources determine the literature review paper outline for you. So, understand the sources and then start developing the literature review outline.

How to Develop an APA Literature Review Outline?

The reason behind discussing APA literature review outline is that APA is one of the most widely-used formatting styles in the US. Moreover, the outline of the literature review does not vary much depending on the choice of formatting style.

Once you are done with your research and analysis of the previous research work on the topic, you need to perform these following steps:

Drafting the introduction:

The introduction should clearly define the focus and purpose of the literature review. Besides, it needs to:

  • Define your topic and offer appropriate context for reviewing the literature
  • Justify your point of view
  • Explain how you have organized the review
  • And state the scope of the review

Preparing the body:

The subsections of the body segment depend on the expected length of the review. As mentioned earlier, you can divide the body into subheadings for each time period, them or methodical approach. Here are the steps to writing the body of a literature review.

  • Summarize and synthesize: Offer an overview of the major points of every individual source and present them in a coherent manner.
  • Analyze and interpret: Instead of just repeating the words of the author of the previous research, including your own interpretation where it is possible. Also, discuss the significance of findings relevant to the literature as a whole.
  • Evaluate critically: Mentions the pros and cons of each of the sources you review.

Once you are done performing these measures, write the paragraphs in a coherent manner. Use transition words to draw connections, comparisons, and differences among the sources.

Writing the conclusion:

The role of the conclusion is well-defined in case of a literature review. It should:

  • Summarize all the important aspects of the existing literature
  • Examine the current significance of the literature you just reviewed
  • Spot the gaps and inconsistencies in the existing knowledge
  • Outline the areas for future study
  • Link your research to the research that already exists

With these steps, you are done with the literature review outline. You can obviously use this aforementioned section as an APA literature review outline template. However, if you need any further help, you can ask the professionals.

Need Professional Assistance on the Task? Look No Further

If you still require assistance on developing the literature review outline for your dissertation, you can avail it from the experts at Here, you can find skilled and knowledgeable experts who have years of experience in developing impressive outlines for literature reviews. Also, every time you avail its services, you get to enjoy the following benefits:

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