Difference between Literature Review and Essay

Most of the students easily get confused between literature reviews and essays, mainly because both have to do with research work. But, the primary distinguishing element is the matter on which most of the emphasis is placed.

At least once in a lifetime, every student comes across the task of writing a literature review for the completion of his or her Bachelor’s or Master’s degree. However, essays are something we have been doing since our childhood. Precisely, essays are a brief write-up on a specific topic, which may describe one’s opinion or give informative explanation to the readers.

On the contrary, a literature review is predominantly based on extensive research on a certain topic. Its purpose is to analyze and evaluate several pieces written by multiple authors on the same topic. The process of research and compiling it into a consistent write-up is fairly complex when it comes to a literature review. This highlights the major difference between an essay and a literature review.

One more purpose of writing an essay is to construct a rational argument about a subject with thorough referencing of events and related information. Including every aspect of the findings is not necessary in an essay, as its main objective could only be to put forward one’s opinion or argument on a certain topic while mentioning the names of the authors and contributors is only meant for referencing purposes.

However, a literature review is formally structured document aimed at achieving critical analysis of the available knowledge about a certain subject. Its goal is to comprehensively examine the discoveries of other authors on same subject and put into perspective their work in relation with the intended research.

In this article, we discuss the key differences between an essay and literature review, and find out how students can work aptly to produce a perfect write-up in respective areas.

What is an Essay and How to Structure it?

Generally, essays are a short and precise piece of writing on any topic of choosing. Their main objective is to put up an analysis on a certain topic and evaluate it through personal or cited arguments. Essays are commonly based on the ideas of the writer, which they present through the retrospect of facts and figures. Essays are of various types, such as descriptive essays, narrative essays, persuasive or argumentative essays, expository essays and many others. Therefore, the purpose of every essay is primarily based on its purpose and type.

For example, if an author is writing a persuasive essay, they aim to inspire the readers to agree with his opinion and think about the topic with his point-of-view. He would want to structure his essay on strong facts and arguments. Similarly, when someone is writing a narrative essay, they intend to narrate a story that could retain the attention of the readers where they reach to its conclusion in rather exciting manner.

According to international standards, an essay must contain three well-defined sections, introduction, body, and conclusion. Every section has its own unique importance and retains the attention of the readers. Mostly, the introductory part is compelling, which aims at winning the desire of the reader to continue reading whereas, the body of an essay builds the argument, presents an analyses ad elaborates the central concept.

The part of conclusion presents a brief summary of the whole essay and sums up the arguments with writers expression on the topic. If the students think they are unable to draft an essay that complies with the guidelines, they should hire literature essay writing service provider to get the work done for them.

What is a Literature Review and How to Go About it?

A literature review mainly focuses on research and evaluation of literature written by various authors on select subject. It demonstrates the analytical capabilities of the writers, who are most probably University level students. In order to produce a professional level write-up, it is crucial for the students to get themselves familiar with research-based articles. They must also learn how to base their research for constructing it into a well-structured literature review.

On the other hand, it is equally vital to base literature review matter on reliable sources such as published books and articles from recognized authors on reputable websites. With the help of these skills, students could gain astute knowledge about the subject and present a solid literature review on any topic.

Moreover, the skill-set of writing a Literature review is instrumental in post Masters Studies. It prepares the students to pursue a solid career as a research analyst on any subject of choice. Also, Literature review is the first phase of a detailed research as it compares all the significant information and sources in a summarized manner. It also assists the author to recognize inconsistencies and potential conflict of ideas pertaining to the relevant subject.

So, it is highly advised that the students adopt the habit of reading research based topics in form articles, books or even research journals. This way, they will generate the instinct to choose most relevant matter for their topic and compare its authenticity without complexities.

A well-written literature review compares the different opinions of authors in a consolidated way. It highlights areas of disagreement between different authors and classifies similar ideas into dedicated sections. It also sheds light over the gap in research on the select topic and explains how further studies can bridge that gap.

The structure of a literature review is not very different from that of a research article or essay. However, it always contains consistent referencing from authentic sources in MLA, APA, Chicago, or Harvard Style, as directed by the University or institute.

Final Word

In comparison between an Essay and a Literature Review, one might say that writing a literature review is fairly challenging, as it needs in depth analysis and more research work. On the contrary, essays are straightforward and brief. However, both have their unique style of evaluation and writing that enable students to develop important understanding of subjects in their academics. Especially, the set of skills, which are groomed in writing a literature review can greatly benefit the students in their professional career and they can always put include that they have worked on a high-quality Literature Review in their CVs while applying for a certain job, increasing the chances of the employment.


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