A review of the literature (literature review) is an overview of the past research works on a topic that a researcher intends to study. It critically evaluates compares and evaluates the published information on a particular topic. It allows an author to synthesize the research, put it into context as well as the relevant scholarly literature to the subject.

A literature review helps to map different the different approaches to a particular question while revealing the patterns. It forms a foundation for the subsequent research that an author of nursing research work will perform to bolster on the existing and justifies the importance of the new study. A literature review is a short introductory section of the research report, article or policy paper focusing on the recent research. A review can be extensive of the relevant research if the research is for theses, dissertations and review articles.


All literature reviews have these major sections.

Introduction: indicates the general state of the literature in a topic

Methodology: An overview of the method of searching, the precise sources and subject terms to enable others access and reproduce this scholarly work.

Findings: A summary of significant findings in the field

Discussion: The general progression from the wider to smaller studies with a specific focus

Conclusion: Conclusion is at the end of every major section b of nursing research. It notes an overall state of research focusing on the significant synthesized conclusions, problems in research and possible avenues for further studies on the subject.


Writing a literature review should be in bibliographic essay format. The writer should briefly cite with the body, but the full bibliographic citations should be at the end. A good review of literature should be well organized in this format.

1.Start with an introductory paragraphThe first paragraph is the introduction of a literature review. It should clearly define the research topic, the scope of the paper (even the material that is not included) and writing style in which the writer will organize the review. The writer should outline the critical debates and trends within the literature concisely. An introduction should provide the author’s point of view or perspective on the topic. The writer can use the opening to point out the general trends, conflicts in conclusions or methodology and gaps in research.

2. Organize major topic and subtopic in the bodyOrganizing topics and subtopic in a review of literature should be organized in groupings. The groupings can be by subject (e.g., globalization of preventive care), type of research (e.g., case study), genre, methodology (e.g., quantitative or qualitative), chronology or the other common characteristics. The author is free to discuss the merits of the items within the groupings, analyze as well as compare the importance of each.

A writer should organize the body into various paragraphs corresponding to the field of nursing, different themes or the time periods in literature to increase readability. A few paragraphs should highlight the outstanding gaps in the literature and propose the directions for future researches. When appropriate, the writer can explain the relevance of the sources.

3.Summarize the ideas and themes in the conclusionThe concluding paragraph should summarize the ideas and themes of a review of literature but only the most significant. The conclusion should not introduce new material. A proper conclusion summarizes the key findings and makes it clear how the review of the literature supports (or disputes) the research. It should also provide an insight into the way a topic fits in the nursing research and profession.

A literature review should have proper referencing in the format the nursing school or faculty requires. It will be incomplete without a list of references or a bibliography in the needed format after the conclusion. I the list of sources am a standalone section that includes full citations for all the items in the literature review. The frequent formats for a nursing list of references include APA, MLA, APA and Chicago style.

The best review of literature evaluates the quality and current sources that are less than ten years unless the analysis is historical or are widely cited. It is essential to search for literature from various types of publications such as books, government documents, nursing databases, and journals. References on articles and books can help to find additional sources.