Pro Guide to Write an Outstanding Literature Review Outline

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Pro Guide to Write an Outstanding Literature Review Outline
Table of Contents
  1. Pro Guide to Write an Outstanding Literature Review Outline
  2. What is a literature review and literature review outline
  3. Literature review outline structure
  4. What should a literature review outline look like? Outline format
  5. How to write a literature review outline step-by-step
  6. 1. The Goal
  7. 2. The Research Process
  8. Relevant and Proven Summary
  9. 3. Logical Development
  10. 4. List of References (Works Cited)
  11. Literature review outline sample
  12. Tips from professionals for writing a brilliant literature review outline
  13. Final thoughts

The article is guide for writing literature reviews. It offers important points to consider on structure and content of such papers on such disciplines as social sciences, science, and humanities. Tips provided in this article are given by professional writers who are experts in their field. Check them over carefully to write a worthy literature review.


The word “literature” in the “literature review” phrase means a set of topical sources on a particular theme. It is not obligatory for the topic to touch world literary classics or other “great” writings. Literature reviews can be written on any topic, starting with the space colonization encyclopedia and ending with research documents on AIDS-curing concepts. Additionally, the word “review” in this phrase does not obligatory mean the readers wish to find out your thoughts or comments on the source data.

What is a literature review and literature review outline

A literature review is a summary of some topical sources overviewing a certain theme. Such papers should be represented as sets of top-relevant and critical publications on the topic provided with the aim of getting a complete, summarized view at opinions and knowledge of different people on the particular subject. Here are the grounding details of every literature review. A literature review should include:

  • Publication description;
  • Publication’s core point summary;
  • Research blind spot discussion;
  • Evaluation of the publication’s topical contribution.

Literature review outline structure

The structure of a literature review is similar to that of a 500 word essay or any other essay. It consists of an intro, a main body, and a conclusion.

  1. The introduction serves to define the topic and state the suitable literature review context. It also establishes the author’s (your) reasons to review the chosen sources and explains the structure of the text you write.
  2. The main body is the place to organize the sources by themes, provide insights, and explain connections between the topic you chose and a broader field of the same subject. Additionally, this part switches the focus from general angles to the specific point of the research conducted.
  3. The conclusion part summarizes critical points mentioned in the literature body and evaluates the relevant status of the sources given. Here you can also pay attention to blind spots and lacking elements in the existing knowledge and consider the fields and directions for future research. Try not to forget to connect the work you’ve done so far to the academic knowledge already available.

What should a literature review outline look like? Outline format

Obviously, an outline is a draft you will use to shape and structure the gathered data according to the set guidelines. Regardless of the format requirements (MLA, APA literature outline, etc.), the following applies: the closer your outline format is to the initial academic structure, the better.

In fact, it is not much different from the regular essay outline. However, you can go in for the format that is more comfortable for you when outlining literature review anyway.

 Now, let’s proceed with the writing guide by WriteMyEssay4Me.

How to write a literature review outline step-by-step

As any type of an academic writing, a good literature review should contain some specific elements. Here are five focus points to consider and keep up with in this kind of a research paper.

1. The Goal

In case it is an argument writing, it is critical to set up a thesis statement with a clear and understandable position. If the point is to evaluate theories and methods, try coming up with a hypothesis to test throughout the text. Or maybe it’s a self-contained summary of topical texts requiring a carefully stated purpose. Then, state it. Defining the goal and connecting it with a particular viewpoint is crucial.

2. The Research Process

Check several sources written by relevant experts and expressing thoughts much close to your viewpoint. Know the names of top-rated scientists of the required field and try including their top-rated publications to the task text.

Relevant and Proven Summary

When summing up every source, make sure to explain the importance of each publication by connecting its focus points to the established hypothesis, thesis, or project opinion. Bring its relevance to the table.

3. Logical Development

Perceive the literature review structure as that of an argument development. First things go first. Proceed from the earliest topic ideas to the latest outcomes and their connection.

4. List of References (Works Cited)

Although you will obviously include source titles and names of their authors into the text of your paper, it is still required to create a relevant and correct list of citations. Keep up with guidelines required at your course tightly (MLA, APA, or Chicago).

You may need a Chicago style annotated bibliography guidelines. We have got you covered.

Literature review outline sample 

Check an online example of a good literature review below. It’s much simpler to write it when you have a clear template before your eyes. Here is the basic sample literature overview outline guide mentioning the key moments in short.

 - The general topic you researched, its importance to the scientific field of yours, and reasons for YOUR interest in the topic and the decision to study research question points are what you should describe here first of all.

- Provide themes and trendy points of research studies and questions, approaches and discoveries. It is the place to draw a “general view” of the reviewed literature.

  - Theme characteristics overview (nuances, differences, commonalities)

  - Sub-theme: short and grouped topical discoveries

  -  How did the literature contribute to the particular scientific field?

  -  Describe general strength points.

  - Write the same thing for weak ones.

  - Are there any points to be missed in the reviewed writings?

  - What should be the next research evolution steps? Write about the supposed way to expand and correct existing knowledge, weak and missing points and address thoughts in an explicit manner. 

  1. Introduction
  2. Theme A
  3. Study 1 (Research question(s), Approaches and Participants, Related Discoveries)
        Study 2 (same)
        Study 3, 4, 5, etc. (same)

    Sub-theme: short and grouped topical discoveries

        Study 6 (Research question(s), Approaches and Participants, Related Discoveries)
        Study 7 (same)
        Study 8, 9, 10, etc. (same)
        And so on with other discoveries fitting the Theme A points; repeating studies is okay when several facts fit more than one theme’s points.  Nevertheless, rewriting the part of study research methods and participants is not required. Reminding the reader about the study is enough.
  4. Theme B – keep up with a, b, c, and so on mentioned above in the text.
  5. Go on with themes. Cover as many themes as requested in the instructions.
  6. Summary/Conclusion: A point where you evaluate/criticize the reviewed literature. Here, a set of paragraphs should be created.

Tips from professionals for writing a brilliant literature review outline

Let us be short and straight. Here is the list of recommendations for writing an informative and effective literature review outline:

  • Evidence matters. Back your arguments and comments up with evidence to prove their validity.
  • Choose wisely. Point out the most critical source thoughts to underline in your review.
  • Be careful with quotes. A couple of them do cut it when empathizing a point is the goal. However, including a lot of long quotes should be discussed with a teacher to avoid unexpected and random plagiarism issues.
  • Synthesis and summary. Do them within each paragraph and connect the entire review by logical links.
  • Be original. Despite the fact that the literature review mentions ideas of other experts, your voice should still be the focus.
  • Revision does work. Perform a lot of revision. Don’t forget to present the material before arguments.

Final thoughts

A literature review writing may seem difficult to complete it until you don’t have the correct structure and action plan. Keep up with the guide and tips above and your review will definitely be worth the top grade and real attention. If you need writing assistance, you can resort to online writing services. Our professional writers will help you write an A+ literature review on any topics and will save your time. Just give it a try!