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How to Write a Literature Review Without Reading the Text

So, you’ve been assigned to write a literature review paper. And it’s come due, while you still haven’t read the required text. If it’s too late to pick up the book, don’t worry! There are ways that you can write a good literature review article or essay while not having actually read anything, to begin with. There are many ways:  You could do it yourself, pay someone to do it, or read a summary of literature review about your topic. Or, if you prefer, you could take the tips below and use them! 

Start on Wikipedia

The best place to start off with your research is going to be the old standby, Wikipedia. While most classes won’t allow you to quote this site as a source, it has quite a lot of information available while also being absolutely free. Read a summary of what your text is supposed to be about. Most articles here have rather in-depth reviews. If you need to quote sources for your paper, then check the bottom, where they’re listed.

Sparknotes, CliffNotes, and Other Sites

You don’t want to use sites such as these too much, because your teacher or professor will be expecting you to utilize them. But, if you’re stuck online without help from sites like Wikipedia (which, while useful, doesn’t cover everything adequately enough), then you can turn to them. This is especially true if you’re covering a text such as a book or a short story. If you need a good idea of the summary and want it geared towards those in your exact position, this is the tip for you.

Is There a Movie? Watch It!

Another good tip for those dealing with a book or a short story. Many of the most commonly written texts have been made into a movie at one point or another. If yours has, as well, it’s worth a try to watch the movie for more information. Don’t rely on this method alone, however:  Movies often change quite a bit from their source material. IMDB can be a great place to look at these changes.

Search, Search, Search

It doesn’t stop at just the sites that we’ve listed here, either. There are other places where you can see the information that you need for your paper. Check Google or Bing. Try to choose links that end in more reputable options, such as “.edu”, “.org” or even “.gov”. That way, you can be confident that it’s being held to a higher standard than your average website.

Read Other Essays

There are plenty of websites online that have essays just waiting for your perusal. A literature review on the text you’ve been assigned is unlikely to be so unique that no one has had the assignment before. To find them, you can start by searching “help me write my literature review” or “literature review for”, followed by your topic. If you need help to write it, start off at these sites since they’ll likely have a few examples for you to follow.

Yes, You Still Need to Take Notes

It might not make sense at first, but taking notes now is far more critical than it would have been if you had actually read the text. While you would have gotten all of your information in the correct context from the book, you’re getting it in bits and pieces now. Writing everything you learn down and later rearranging data to be in the right order can make it easier to fool whoever might be grading your paper.

Examine the Context

What is the context of the text that you were supposed to read? Is it fiction or nonfiction? When was it written, and what time period is it supposed to take place in? Where is it supposed to happen? Was it written in response to something, during a significant movement or time of social or political upheaval? These are all questions that you should be able to answer to when you sit down to write your literary review.

Get Your Paper Reviewed

It’s best to ask about this someone else who is in your class, or a student you know that has read the text and written a review before. You don’t necessarily need to tell them that you didn’t read something; simply let your work speak for itself. If you get nothing but confusion, then you know that you haven’t done an excellent job writing it. If they only have standard criticisms, then you’ve done well.

Know Key Symbolisms

Symbolism is essential when it comes to literature reviews. Many instructors want you to include it in the text. If that’s true in your case, know what sorts of symbolism are used. Simply searching for your “symbolism” in the exact book can help you find a plethora of examples and discussions on the matter. Knowing underlying symbolism, in general, can make this task all the easier.

Sound Like You Know What You’re Talking About

“Fake it ’til you make it” is quite the apt phrase. You can convince almost everyone of nearly everything if you say it with enough confidence. Present your ideas in the review as though you know exactly what you’re talking about. Even if you don’t, at least you’ve failed with conviction.
It’s always better to read the text before writing a literary review. However, if you haven’t done that, or it isn’t possible, then you can still get it done. It takes more time effort, and guesswork, but you can write a good review, regardless.

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