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Literature Reviews: Parts & Organization of a Literature Review

Parts & Organization of a Literature Review

Literature reviews typically follow the introduction-body-conclusion format. If your literature review is part of a larger project or paper, the introduction and conclusion of the lit review may be just a few sentences, while you focus most of your attention on the body. If it is a standalone piece, then the introduction and conclusion may take up more space.

A literature review typically follows this model:


  • An introductory paragraph that explains what your working topic and thesis is.
  • Noting key topics or texts that will appear in the review.
  • A potential description of how you found your sources, and how you chose them for inclusion and discussion for your review.


  • Summarize and synthesize: Give an overview of the main points of each source and combine them into a coherent whole.
  • Analyze and interpret: Don’t just paraphrase other researchers and their voices – add your own interpretations where possible, discussing the significance of findings in relation to the literature as a whole.
  • Critically Evaluate: Mention strengths and weaknesses of your sources.
  • Write in well-structured paragraphs: Use this body paragraph space to draw and show connections, comparisons, and contrasts between your selected sources.


  • Summarize the key findings you have taken from the literature and emphasize their significance.
  • Connect it back to your primary research question. Remind readers what your thesis is.

Purdue University – Purdue Online Writing Lab. (n.d.). What are the Parts of a Lit Review?; How Should I Organize My Lit Review?. Retrieved from: