Literature Reviews

How to reference text and structure the articles in your review.


You know what a literature review is, you understand how to conduct one and you have a strategy to take your work forward. But how do you write it?

The following abstract is an example of a literature review conducted to a first class undergraduate standard. The text shows how literature sources and argument can be structured. The tips in square brackets [ ] explain the reasoning behind the statements.

Literature review example

The Voluntary Sector

The NCVO explains that voluntary organisations are managed by a “change process aimed at creating a culture of enterprise” (NCVO 1990, p. 9). It is this opening source which really benchmarks the review. This demonstrates how the last decade within the third sector, has largely failed to deliver to the NCVOs statement above. [This displays using contradictory research and introducing an argument to the work.]

Kendall and Knapp (1996) proposed several ideas which have had an increasing impact upon the third sector. The evolution of the third sector, Deakin explains: “is attributable to the newly elected Labour government of 1997” (Deacon 1996, p. 175). The heightened profile and changes in public views has led to a new revolution of efficiency and management within the third sector. Continuing the political argument Rochester (1998, p. 31) believes that:

“Widespread disillusion with the cost and quality of social welfare provided by western world governments has led to an increased dependency on the third sector”. [Here the author mapped out the themes of the literature review and therefore benefited from a natural progression in the review. The referenced quote provides weight to this theme.]

There is an emerging argument of whether the third sector is in a revolution and whether it’s effectively setup to deal with large quantities of information. [This is an early question being raised by the author as to whether the research undertaken is valid i.e. is the third sector in a revolution.]


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