Literature Review Tips for the Introduction and Discussion Sections

A literature review is a summary of studies related to a particular area of research. It identifies and summarizes all the relevant research conducted on a particular topic. It is important that your literature review is focused. Therefore, you should choose a limited number of studies that are central to your topic rather than trying to collect a wide range of studies that might not be closely connected.

Literature reviews help you accomplish the following:

  • Evaluate past research 
    Collecting relevant resources will help you see what research has already been done. This will also help avoid duplication.
  • Identify experts
    It is important to identify credible researchers who have knowledge in a given field, in order to seek their help if you get stuck with certain aspects of your research.
  • Identify key questions 
    Your ultimate aim is to bring something new to the conversation. Collecting resources will help you determine the important questions that need to be addressed.
  • Determine methodologies used in past studies
    Knowing how others have approached a particular topic will give you the opportunity to identify problems and find new ways to research and study a topic. If the reported methodology was successful, you can use it and save time that you would otherwise be spending on optimization.

Presenting Literature Review in the Introduction and Discussion Sections

There are many benefits to presenting literature reviews in the introduction and discussion sections of your manuscripts. However, there are differences in how you can present literature reviews in each section.

What Should be Included in the Literature Review of the Introduction Section?

The literature reviewed in the introduction should:

  • Introduce the topic
  • Establish the significance of the study
  • Provide an overview of the relevant literature
  • Establish a context for the study using the literature
  • Identify knowledge gaps
  • Illustrate how the study will advance knowledge on the topic

As you can see, literature review plays a significant role in the introduction section. However, there are some things that you should avoid doing in this section. These include:

  • Elaborating on the studies mentioned in the literature review
  • Using studies from the literature review to aggressively support your research
  • Directly quoting studies from the literature review

It is important to know how to integrate the literature review into the introduction in an effective way. Although you can mention other studies, they should not be the focus. Instead, focus on using the literature review to aid in setting a foundation for the manuscript.

What Goes in the Literature Review of the Discussion Section?

Literature reviews play an important role in the discussion section of a manuscript. In this section, your findings should be the focus, rather than those of other researchers. Therefore, you should only use the studies mentioned in the literature review as support and evidence for your study.

There are three ways in which you can use literature reviews in the discussion section:

  • To Provide Context for Your Study
    Using studies from the literature review helps to set the foundation for how you will reveal your findings and develop your ideas.
  • Compare your Findings to Other Studies
    You can use previous literature as a backdrop to compare your new findings. This helps describe and also advance your ideas.
  • State the Contribution of Your Study
    In addition to developing your ideas, you can use literature reviews to explain how your study contributes to the field of study.

However, there are three common mistakes that researchers make when including literature reviews in the discussion section. First, they mention all sorts of studies, some of which are not even relevant to the topic under investigation. Second, instead of citing the original article, they cite a related article that mentions the original article. Lastly, some authors cite previous work solely based on the abstract, without even going through the entire paper.

We hope this article helps you effectively present your literature review in both the introduction as well as the discussion section of your manuscript. You can also mention any other tips that will add to this article in the comments section below.


[1] http://www.math.montana.edu/jobo/phdprep/documents/phd6.pdf 

[2] https://libguides.unf.edu/c.php?g=177129&p=1163732

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