How to Write a Literature Review with AI

I (Jessica) recently recorded a YouTube video on how to write a literature review using AI tools. This blog post expands on the video’s content, offering a step-by-step guide on integrating AI tools into your literature review workflow.


The AI Sandwich Metaphor: Understanding Ethical AI Usage

The concept of the “AI Sandwich” metaphor, introduced in our video, provides a framework for understanding when and how to use AI in academic writing. This approach advocates for using AI as a tool to assist in the initial and final stages of your literature review, with the core analytical work and writing being done by YOU – the human. This ensures ethical usage while benefiting from AI’s efficiency.



Step-by-Step Guide to Writing a Literature Review with AI


Outline with AI

I never start writing a literature review on a blank page. ALWAYS start with an outline – you’ll thank me later. In doing so, you’ll be able to search for literature more effectively based on a specific sub-section of writing. I like to start by using Moxie’s AI tool for conducting literature reviews. When using this tool, you can ask the AI to help you develop a preliminary outline based on your research topic and problem statement. The AI will then use the keywords and concepts to suggest various types of literature review outline structures (e.g., thematic, topical methodological, chronological, problem-cause-solution, etc.).


Explore Literature with AI Tools

There are several popular AI tools that you can use to locate relevant literature. AI research tools like Elicit, along with Scite ( and Consensus (, offer advanced ways to identify relevant literature quickly and efficiently. Pro Tip: Understand the corpus behind these tools to grasp their limitations. For example, Scite was founded using a biomedical corpus, so it wouldn’t be ideal for locating literature in other fields (however, this is evolving rapidly).


Locate a Seed Paper

A critical step is finding a high-quality ‘seed’ paper, such as a systematic review or a seminal article, to anchor your research. A seed paper provides a solid foundation for your research, offering a comprehensive overview of the topic, including key theories, methodologies, and findings. This helps you understand the current state of research in your area of study.


Expand your Search

Utilizing multiple search engines to explore citations and related articles is pivotal in broadening the scope of your literature review. Different search engines and databases offer varied perspectives, coverages, and specialties, which are essential for a comprehensive understanding of your research topic.


Organize Literature

Keeping your resources well-organized is key. Use your favorite reference management software to save and categorize articles.


Data Extraction with AI

Once you’ve identified relevant literature, you need to extract relevant data and look for patterns or “gaps.” AI tools like Elicit come into play here, assisting in extracting and analyzing important data from your literature.


Write a Draft (without AI!)

Writing the first draft personally is crucial for maintaining original thought and critical analysis. Trust me, you don’t want to be in a position where you don’t know your sh*t because you tried to cut corners and didn’t do the work yourself. Not to mention, this is a form of academic dishonesty and could lead to dismissal from your program or rejection of your manuscript.


Obtain Feedback from AI and Peers

Moxie’s AI tools can also be used to provide constructive feedback on your literature review drafts. Our AI tools for conducting a literature review play a crucial role in enhancing the quality of your work by offering insights on various aspects such as clarity, coherence, and argument strength. However, the importance of human feedback cannot be overstated. Combining AI feedback with human insights ensures a comprehensive improvement process. The AI tool helps in refining the initial drafts, catching inconsistencies, and suggesting structural improvements. Meanwhile, human feedback provides nuanced critiques, fosters academic discourse, and encourages collaboration, which further enriches the content and quality of your literature review.



The final stage involves revising your literature review, where AI tools can offer suggestions for improvement and refinement. I highly recommend conducting a reverse outline to ensure each paragraph addresses a single main idea and the structure of your writing follows a logical pattern.

Elevate Your Research with AI

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