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GEOL 355: Structural Geology and Tectonics

Writing the Introduction

In the introduction of a literature review, you should:

  • Define or identify the general topic, issue, or area of concern, thus providing an appropriate context for reviewing the literature.
  • Point out overall trends in what has been published about the topic, existing gaps in research and scholarship, or a new perspective of immediate interest.
  • Establish the writer’s reason (point of view) for reviewing the literature. Explain the criteria to be used in analyzing and comparing literature and the organization of the review (sequence). When necessary, state why certain literature is or is not included (scope).

Writing the Body

In the body of a literature review, you should:

  • Group research studies and other types of literature (reviews, theoretical articles, case studies, etc.) according to common denominators, such as qualitative versus quantitative approaches, conclusions of authors, specific purpose or objective, chronology, etc.
  • Summarize individual studies or articles with as much or as little detail as each merits according to its comparative importance in the literature, remembering that length denotes significance.
  • Provide the reader with strong “umbrella” sentences at beginnings of paragraphs and brief “so what” summary sentences at intermediate points in the review to aid in understanding comparisons and analyses.

Writing the Conclusion

In the conclusion of a literature review, you should:

  • Summarize major contributions of significant studies and articles to the body of knowledge under review, maintaining the focus established in the introduction.
  • Evaluate the current state of the topic based on the literature reviewed, pointing out major methodological flaws or gaps in research, inconsistencies in theory and findings, and areas or issues pertinent to future study.
  • Conclude by providing some insight into the relationship between the central topic of the literature review and a larger area of study, such as a discipline, a scientific endeavor, or a profession.


Revision and proofreading are critical parts of the writing process. As you're preparing your literature review, you will need to revise and rewrite many times. 

Broad Strategies for Revising and Proofreading
  • Get some distance. Give yourself a few hours between finishing a draft and picking it back up again for revision.
  • Revise and proofread in stages.
  • Pay attention to large, overall concerns first, like content and structure. Work on smaller concerns like grammar and punctuation last.
  • Keep re-reading your work to make sure your entire paper makes sense as you make changes.
  • Give your work to others for feedback.
Revising Content

When reviewing your content for revision, make sure your information is presented clearly, at the right time, and with sufficient depth, detail and relevance for the purpose of your work. Make sure that there is no irrelevant information included.

Questions to ask as you're revising content:

  • Is the purpose clear?
  • Is the thesis stated early?
  • Is there sufficient evidence or data to support the presented ideas?
  • Is all the material relevant to the purpose?
Revising Structure

Your reader should be able to easily follow the logic of how you present information.

Questions to ask as you're revising structure:

  • Are the ideas presented logically?
  • Is new information introduced by connecting it to previous information?
  • Is the information easy to follow? Does the writing flow?
  • Are any ideas repeated in more than one place?
  • Are any parts too long or too short?
  • Does the organization follow the structure required for the assignment?
Revising Clarity

Sentences can be different lengths, but each sentence should focus on one point or idea as clearly and concisely as possible.

Questions to ask when revising clarity:

  • Are any sentences too long with too many ideas?
  • Do any sentences have more words than needed?
  • Can vague words be replaced with more precise language?
  • Can any ideas be stated more simply?

Literature Review Checklist

After you've written, rewritten, and then rewritten your literature review again, check to make sure you have:

  • Outlined the purpose and scope
  • Identified appropriate and credible literature
  • Analyzed and critiqued the readings
  • Written an introduction, body, and conclusion
  • Documented the source citations in the appropriate GSA Style
  • Checked punctuation and spelling