How to Pen Down Literature Review Chapter for an Empirical Paper?

Empirical research, mostly used in social sciences, is based on observation and measurement of a phenomenon and derives results from real-time experiences rather than theories. Generally, an empirical paper consists of four components, of which literature review plays a vital role. 

The literature review chapter opens up the study domain, how the field has evolved over time, shows how the research problem under study has been discussed and which are its crucial concepts. 

Hence,while crafting this section, you must be concerned with three major goals: setting the theoretical background, identifying gaps between the existing literature, and describing the key concepts used within the empirical paper. 

Research scholars, especially novices may find the literature review writing process a quite daunting task. To this process an easier one, we have mentioned a few stages involved in the review section crafting process. 

  1. The first step includes critical analysis of literature sources. To perform it, select a set of papers obtained from academic portals (depending on your study domain), such as Scopus, Web of Knowledge, EBSCO, JSTOR, SciELO, etc. Remember, portals rank papers by number of citations/relevance, using which you can identify fundamental papers and authors. However, the older the paper has the greater probability of citation. The set of sources collected in this stage is just a preliminary selection which needs to be refined further.
  2. After collecting the initial set of sources, do not try to answer the questions immediately. Before doing so, develop ideas as to what can be expected from the current study based on the previous studies. This is followed by finding answers to questions such as:
  •  What are the theories included in the existing literature?
  •  What do the theories predict the context of your study?
  •  What empirical evidences are found in line with the theories?
  •  Is there any important debate in the literature? 

Ideally, discussion and comment must be maintained within the paragraphs in this section, without which it gives an impression that you were merely describing the literature and not reviewing it. Experts offering PhD thesis chapters help are at your disposal if you require aid in reviewing the literature. However, upon assessing the sources if the required factors are not found, there is always a scope for further literature analysis. 

A good literature review section must address various requirements, comprising of relevant literature and synthesising it with clarity.

This section consists of key features, including: 

  • Rhetoric The ideas must be presented clearly, coherently, and in a well-articulated text, without making unsupported assertions. 
  • Significance  The review must present the practical and theoretical significance of the research problem. 
  • Synthesis –  It should not be limited to a long list of citations, but should summarise and connect relevant references. 

No matter how hard you strive, the initial draft is never going to be a great one. Revise it several times to obtain the final piece of well-crafted literature review chapter. If you need any help in refining, you can always approach professionals offering PhD thesis chapters help.