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In the previous blogs, we talked about searching and assessing reference papers for your literature review, and shared tips on organising and writing the content. Let’s look now at how to conclude your literature review.

One of the aims of writing the literature review is to define the purpose and contribution of your own study. Your review should therefore cover the points listed below to provide the rationale or justification for your study:

  • gaps in the research
  • limitations of previous studies
  • weaknesses or lack of support for existing theories

 

Filling a Gap is Not a Rationale in itself

You need to state clearly what your study intends to achieve and why it is important.

It is not sufficient to simply say something like, “there is a gap in the research or literature”.  Your readers might think that the gap exists only because there is no reason to fill such gap.

Then what should you consider including in the conclusion of your literature review?

1. Purpose or Objective of Your Study

First, you must be clear about what the purpose or objective of your study is. For example, you need to make it clear whether your study:

  • is designed to answer a specific question or solve a specific problem
  • is an experimental study looking for a cause and effect relationship
  • is a correlational study looking for relationships between variables
  • compares different clinical or psychological treatments or interventions
  • presents a new technique or an adaptation of an existing one
  • is a meta-analysis or review of previous studies

 

2. Significance of your Study

Try to be specific about the significance of your study and have a clear idea about what or who will benefit from it.

To give you some examples, a benefit might include:

  • advancing an existing theory or developing a new one
  • providing a new technique that will benefit future researchers
  • presenting a new material or product, or refining an existing one that will benefit industry
  • proposing a treatment or intervention that will aid clinicians and patients
  • providing evidence that can be used to improve government policy-making

 

Steps to Writing your Literature Review Conclusion

It is important to remember that the conclusion only needs to be a few sentences long. So, do not write too much.

You can follow the steps and adapt the sample expressions listed below:

Step #1: Start with a sentence to highlight the research gap

You may consider using one of these examples:

Despite the aforementioned theoretical inferences, no study to date has provided empirical support for the hypothesized effects

Given the lack of evidence for the applicability of this psychological intervention in Asian populations…

Step #2: State what you did to address the problem

Try using a sentence similar to one of these:

Therefore, in a series of experiments, we explored the direct effects of a on b and c, and tested whether m had a moderating influence on these effects

…we conducted a randomised control trial with a sample of patients who attended the clinic at ABC Hospital.

Step #3: Summarise how the findings will contribute to theory and/or practice

You may consider writing in one of these ways:

The results not only provide support for the theory, but also have practical implications for industry and government decision makers

Confirmation of the suitability of the intervention in this population will provide an alternative choice of treatment for this condition, which will benefit both patients and clinicians.

Putting those sample expressions together, we have the following example literature review conclusions.

“Despite the aforementioned theoretical inferences, no study to date has provided empirical support for the hypothesized effects. Therefore, in a series of experiments, we explored the direct effects of a on b and c, and tested whether m had a moderating influence on these effects. The results not only provide support for the theory, but also have practical implications for industry and government decision makers.”

“Given the lack of evidence for the applicability of this psychological intervention in Asian populations, we conducted a randomised control trial with a sample of patients who attended the clinic at ABC Hospital. Confirmation of the suitability of the intervention in this population will provide an alternative choice of treatment for this condition, which will benefit both patients and clinicians.”

But, always remember that the wording you use will differ depending on the nature of your study.

And no matter how different the wording you use is, the fundamental elements of this summary should not change, you must cover the following:

  • make clear the research gap
  • explain how you set out to address the problem
  • and why it was important to do so

 


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