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Writing the literature review chapter of a book

I was reviewing my Twitter feed after my website went down for a few days because of a coding error, and I found a request from Dr. Sara Chatfield regarding suggestions for how to write a literature review chapter for a book manuscript. Dr. Ryan LaRochelle suggested that she look through my website to see if I had written something about the topic.

Strangely enough, I haven’t. I have written about how to write introductory chapters and concluding chapters for book manuscripts, but I hadn’t written about how to write a literature review chapter within a manuscript intended to be published as a book.

Working at my campus office

To be perfectly honest, I could not recall at the time I got this request if I had ever read a book that had solely a literature review chapter (my doctoral dissertation has one, but I also have been revising it for publication as a book, so I can’t say that I will keep it as a stand-alone literature review.

So what I decided to do was to come to my office and check a few books and see whether they had a stand-alone literature review chapter or not, and if they did, how they wrote it, and if they didn’t, how did they incorporate the literature review into the entire manuscript.

For another of my book manuscripts, I am doing individual chapter literature reviews because it’s somewhat of a collection of individual pieces of scholarship about bottled water. For the book that is coming out of my doctoral dissertation, I have a major literature review in the first chapter, which is the introduction, and then I add a little bit here and there in the other chapters.

As I had promised Dr. Chatfield and Dr. LaRochelle, I’ve checked a few books to see if they had a dedicated literature review chapter. There’s a broad range of approaches, but the vast majority of books I reviewed put the literature review in the introduction and add in each chapter on an “as needed” basis. Since I already did a Twitter thread I am just going to paste my overview here.

I am hopeful these notes I took from different books will achieve the goal that I intended: help other authors consider how they’ll frame their literature reviews in their manuscripts. I wanted to add a few comments and responses I got to a Twitter query. As shown below, other book authors vary their approaches and there is ample divergence in how people approach the literature review in their books (stand-alone chapter vs interspersed throughout the manuscript and having most of the literature review in the introductory chapter).

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