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Engineering: The Literature Review Process

How to do a thorough literature review for a dissertation, thesis, applied project or grant application.

Writing Tips

Your review should consists of 3 sections: 

  1. The Introduction in which you tell the reader what topic you are covering and why.  
  2. The Body in which you relate what your literature review found.  
    This section needs to be grouped by the patterns or commonalities that you found during your reading and from the matrix.  Your groupings could be by 
    • Chronology
    • Topic or Issue
    • Method
    • Theory
  3. The Summary in which you draw conclusions about the significant events, discoveries, flaws and work that still needs to be done.  


Highly Recommended Viewing ...

Get Lit: The Literature Review
Candace Schaefer, Associate Director of the University Writing Center at Texas A&M
Although the speaker is addressing a class consisting of graduate students from all subject areas, the advice applies to engineering.   

You can skip the first part of this video but do view these sections: 

  • 15m 20s What are you looking for when you are reading the literature
  • 18m 10s How to organize your review 
  • 23m 47s Content:
    • 23m 47s: Placing the literature within the scholarly debate 
    • 29m 30s: Attribution, citation, quoting
    • 34m 10s: Connecting ideas   
    • 38m 30s: Positioning your research in the scholarly debate


The readings and videos listed below also give advice on writing the review. 

Further Readings


  • Writing the Literature Review: Step by Step Tutorial for Graduate Students
    David Taylor, University of Maryland. 

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