Blog Students Exam Tips Avoiding Common Errors in Your A-Level Literature Review

Avoiding Common Errors in Your A-Level Literature Review

For students tackling their A-Levels, there will be a part of the curriculum that would ask them to do a mini-dissertation to showcase what they know about a certain subject. The dissertation would contain every aspect of the research: from the student’s hypothesis to the literature they have reviewed for the topic.

Unfortunately, while the literature review is pretty straightforward when it comes to what it should contain, writing it is very difficult. Should you find yourself making a mistake, it is possible you have to rewrite it again.

To help you recognize these mistakes and help you avoid them, here are the three major categories of errors that occur in literature reviews and the examples of errors under the category:

Writing & Stylistic Issues

Writing emotional phrases
When doing a literature review, you must remain neutral and present all the sides of the topic. Literature reviews are meant to showcase what is currently discussed rather than presenting where you stand on the topic. You can write your position in the discussions half of your dissertation.
• Writing personal opinions
It is a common mistake in literature reviews that students add their personal opinion while indicating the arguments currently offered in sources. Just like the previous error stated above, literature reviews must be neutral and only display the current research on the topic.
Plagiarizing by accident
Literature reviews are also checked for plagiarism and it is important that you do not make any unjustified claims during this portion and always cite your source. If quoting directly from a source, you must also write the page where you took the quote.
Writing the author’s first and last name in the text
When talking about the positions of writers during the literature review, you do not have to write their first and last names in the text. You can cite them based on the citation style required for your dissertation.
Putting long URLs in the study
When writing a dissertation, it is a common mistake by many to put long URLs on the main text. Instead of doing this, cite their last name and the year the work was done based on the citation style required and put the URL in the bibliography.

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Structure and Elements Issues

Missing background of the study or definitions section
Before a student tackles on the literature used for the study, it is important that they provide a background of the topic and the terms that would be used throughout the study. Without this part, the reader will have no idea about the topic you are discussing and cause you to lose a point in your overall grade.
No organization and structure
For many dissertation writers, it is very common to hear some having problems arranging their literature review in a particular order that will make it easier to read. Before you pass your literature review to your teacher, make sure you use sub-headings and organize the sources based on these categories. Through this format, you will be able to focus and give your readers a clear idea of the arguments presented.
Unrelated content
Some writers tend to make errors when it comes to the points they include in their literature review. Some of them tend to add points that are not related to the research, causing confusion for readers. Only write the points cited by writers about the research topic you selected.
Ignoring the methodology of the source used
Every research article available for students to read up on has a methodology included giving readers an idea of how the research was done and how the writer achieved their result. As you write your literature review, gleam on to these parts of the article and get an idea of how you can do your own research.

Credibility/ Validity Issues

Narrow literature review
When it comes to literature reviews, they must have a deep discussion about the sources and it must be connected to the research question. Writing a narrow or general literature review will not provide you a clear insight on how these writers discussed the topic during their research.
Too much direct quotations
It is very common for many students to insert a lot of direct quotations to make up the text requirement of their literature review. While using direct quotations is ok, it should not be a lot. Your paper should showcase your analysis of the sources you used and apply them correctly throughout your research.
Using the wrong sources
Some students heavily rely on non-scholarly sources when it comes to their articles since they are easier to read as compared to their scholarly variant. When writing a literature review, or any research for that matter, you must take the time to read academic sources even if they are very complicated to understand. These sources may have points you did not expect to appear and add to your arguments.
Using ‘supportive’ sources
When presenting a literature review, it must reflect all sides of the argument. For example, if you are discussing the pros and cons of the death penalty, you must show the pro side and the cons side. Citing all the positions will help support your major argument since you can counter these arguments through your study. Of course, remember to argue for your side in the discussions half of the paper and not on the literature review.

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Final Remarks?

When writing a literature review, it is important that you maintain a cool head and study how it should be written to prevent unnecessary frustrations from occurring. If you find yourself stressed out because of these errors, simply check out the points we cited above and correct your work accordingly. You can also ask your professor or a literature tutor to help you out if you could not find a good solution to the literature review errors you made.

A dissertation is not just a way for you to showcase what you learned about a subject or a key to a good grade, it may even help you with opportunities that can help you reach your goals. So, do your best and seek help when you need it!

For more Literature exam tips, don’t forget to read these articles as well:

How To Structure An English Literature Essay For Singapore A-Levels
5 Singapore Myths About Studying For Humanities Subjects



Rum Tan

Rum Tan is the founder of SmileTutor and he believes that every child deserves a smile. Motivated by this belief and passion, he works hard day & night with his team to maintain the most trustworthy source of home tutors in Singapore. In his free time, he writes articles hoping to educate, enlighten, and empower parents, students, and tutors. You may try out his free home tutoring services via or by calling 6266 4475 directly today.