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Writing A Stand-Alone Literature Review – A Step-by-Step Guide for Undergraduate Batch 2023

Are you looking for the structure and format of a stand-alone literature review? Most probably, you have done with the introduction of your undergraduate dissertation. Even at this very beginning of undergraduate research, if you are thinking of writing a review that can become part of your dissertation as well as which can stand-alone, then congratulations! You are on the right track. Of course, you can conduct a multi-purpose literature review. If you want to know how then you must read this article till the end. It will be a complete step-by-step guide for writing a stand-alone literature review, especially for the undergraduate students of batch 2023.

Stand-Alone Literature Review – A Brief Introduction

A literature review is simply the process of searching all the relevant scholarly articles published so far on a particular topic of interest. A literature review can be of various types: simple review, systematic review, and meta-analysis. It’s quite fair to conduct a simple literature review at the start of your research tenure by searching, synthesizing and evaluating information and sending it for publication. Later on, the same file can be used to draft chapter 2 of the dissertation. Thus, in this scenario, the very first draft that is written to get published even before completing the academic research will be called the stand-alone literature review. These reviews are also termed review papers, and literary audiences usually read such papers to collect fundamental information or develop a conceptual understanding of the subject, process, and phenomenon understudy.

Step By Step Guide To Write A Stand-Alone Literature Review:

Writing a stand-alone dissertation literature review asks you to know about its structure and the steps to follow. Actually, its structure simply resembles a long essay format having a simple introduction, main body, and conclusion. However, maintaining fluency and flow in the information by using transitional words, phrases, and sentences is also an important thing to keep in mind for maintaining the quality of your review. Moreover, the following are some common steps that you can follow for writing a stand-alone literature review:

Step #  1: Formulate Questions:

Other than a compelling topic for the literature, another necessity to take a head start for your literature review is to formulate a few simple, concise, and focused research questions. These questions are of utmost importance as they aim to give your search direction. Without setting aims or formulating questions, it will be difficult to decide which problem your paper or review is going to be addressed.

Step #  2: Decide Method Of Review:

Once you have made a set of questions focusing on your area of research, then the next step in writing a stand-alone literature review is to decide on what will be the best method to conduct a review. Moreover, the most common method of review is to synthesize the information by examining how a piece of information is explained by different authors. This method of synthesis helps identify the key issues and themes to broaden your literature research.

Step #  3: Make Inclusion Or Exclusion Criteria:

This step is important to maintain the quality of your research. Remember, in academic research, you cannot add every piece of information to your review that seems relevant to your search. Rather, it is advisable for you to make inclusion and exclusion criteria for your search. Inclusion criteria refer to setting conditions for selecting studies for your review, especially keeping the goals or concerns of your research in mind. Contrary to this, the exclusion list refers to the criteria for rejecting the literature, such as outdated, sub-standard papers and many more.

Step #  4: Conduct Literature Search:

The fourth step is simply to see the inclusion or exclusion criteria and conduct a literature search. It’s fair enough to use the research tools that seem perfect to bring the best results relevant to your search. Google Scholar is one of the most sought-after search engines; however, for a more detailed-oriented search, you can also use subject-specific databases such as NCBI, PubMed, and many more. Remember, no matter which database you used to conduct your search, you must follow the specific inclusion and exclusion criteria while reaching any conclusion.   

Step #  5: Evaluate The Quality Of Information Gathered Via Literature Search:

While writing a stand-alone literature review, the importance of adding only authentic information increases many folds. The reason behind it is that there will be no preliminary or concluding chapter supporting the information provided in the stand-alone literature review, so everything must be presented in a very precise or accurate manner. However, to evaluate the quality of the information, you must know about the author’s background, search for the journal’s reputation and at least check the relevancy of the information with the main objectives of your research.   

Step #  6: Brainstorm The Content Strategy:

Now, it’s time to give your search a shape of a review paper. But to do so, you must first have to search for a content strategy. Content strategy is a relatively common term that can be defined in many ways. Hereby, it only refers to a plan one must use to arrange the content to ensure fluency in it. In academic papers, it tells you to either arrange the information from specific to general or general to specific.

Step #  7: Draft The Review And Proofread It Before Publication:

Lastly, write down what you have planned or searched on a piece of paper or a blank Microsoft Word sheet. Later on, you must proofread the content to know whether the final manuscript is up to your expectation or whether additional efforts are required. For taking the expert’s opinions about the quality of your stand-alone literature review, you must consult a reliable dissertation editor and proofreader.

Final Thoughts:

In a nutshell, writing a stand-alone literature review is one of the preliminary steps that all undergraduate students who take admission to any undergraduate research degree in 2023 will have to complete. By reviewing the above-mentioned steps, you may have noticed that writing a stand-alone literature review is not at all a hard nut to crack. Just follow these steps one by one and seek the experts’ help if anything seems to be getting out of your control.

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