literature reviews

Questions to help you identify themes in your literature review

Questions to help you identify themes in your literature review

The following questions are very useful to help you identify key themes that you might want to explore in your literature review:


Please email Dr. Eira Patterson with any feedback, comments or suggestions.

eira.patterson (at) 

Doing a literature review: How to find and make sense of published research

This guide is designed to help you to:

  • understand how to use other people’s writing to inform your own research;
  • develop a strategy for carrying out a search of the literature;
  • organise the themes logically;
  • evaluate the research you read;
  • think about the features of a reflective literature review and explore how to achieve this in practice. 

Research Methods: Doing a literature review

Writing your literature review

Style of writing

It is important to write clearly and not to over complicate the ideas being presented. However the writing needs to adopt an academic style. The best way to develop this is to do lots of reading of a range of different academic work. A useful exercise when looking at developing your style of writing is to make a list of useful words and phrases that you could adopt in your writing, for example:

How to reference

The most commonly used system for referencing is the Harvard referencing system. The key features of this system are:

Case study: Identifying the ‘trouble’ in a story

Read the excerpt below from a journal article and identify the ‘trouble’ in this story i.e. establish what the key issue is and the alternative viewpoints:

Application of ideas: Constructing your own literature map

Construct a literature map for the area of education that you are interested in researching.

Guidelines for helping you to construct a literature map:

Useful links to help you create a literature map

Structuring your ideas: Creating a literature map

It is important to have a plan of the areas to be discussed, using this to indicated how these will link together. In the overall structure of the literature review, there should be a logical flow of ideas and within each paragraph there should be a clear theme, around which related ideas are explored and developed. A literature map can be useful for this purpose as it enables you to create a visual representation of the themes and how they could relate to one another.


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