Your Literature Review

First, your readers are most interested in figuring out what you do. After you’ve explained your contribution, then you can write a brief literature review. Make it a separate section. Be generous in your citations. Set your paper off against two or three closest current papers, and give proper credit to people who deserve priority for things that might otherwise seem new.

The body of your paper

Your task now is to get to the central result as fast as possible. Most papers start with:

  • long motivation
  • long literature review
  • big complex model
  • descriptive statistics
  • preliminary results
  • side discussions

Boring! Put nothing before the main result that the reader does not need to know in order to understand it. 

Your conclusions

Do not restate all of your findings. One statement in the abstract, one in the introduction and once more in the body of the text should be enough. You can include a short paragraph or two acknowledging limitations, and suggesting implications beyond those in the paper. Keep it short. Don’t speculate.


  • Literature review - meaningless before your contribution
  • Body of the paper - all about your main result
  • Short conclusion

Creative Commons Licence
SMILE Technical writing by Marion Kelt, GCU, Vince Ricci, CIEE, Joe Schall, PennState University and Glynis Perkin, Loughborough University is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International LicenseDetails on our credits page.