I just start writing a paper. This is also my first time doing so.

I have a problem describing the pros and cons of the related literature. I am not sure where I should place them.

  1. Some of the papers address the pros and cons of related work in INTRODUCTION section so that they can claim why their research is superior. e.g. after pointing out the cons of the related work, one may claim that they work has fixed this and thus superior. So it is like the research motivation and work desctiption come directly after the pros and cons. They are all in INTRODUCTION.
  2. The second style I have seen is writing them in RELATED WORK section.

Both ways seem fine to me. And I am even confused with these two sections! I notice that there is usually some related work described in both INTRODUCTION and RELATED WORK.

So where should I put them? INTRODUCTION or RELATED WORK?

FYI, I am in EECS field. But any generic advice is welcomed.

  • Which EECS field?
    – JeffE
    Commented Aug 27, 2013 at 5:26
  • @JeffE Mobile computing, sensor networks, a bit of signal processing. :) Commented Aug 27, 2013 at 5:32

3 Answers 3


One criterion is how important these comparisons are for understanding your work. At one extreme, you may be writing a paper whose sole purpose is to address a gap in the literature by doing something in a better way than other papers or using different hypotheses. In that case, nobody can really understand your paper and its purpose without an explanation of how it relates to these other papers, so you would need to discuss this in the introduction. At the other extreme, you may be mentioning related work only for completeness or because it might interest the reader, with no necessity at all for understanding your paper. In that case, you might as well not clutter up the introduction with it. Most papers are somewhere in between these extremes, in which case you'll have to make a judgment call (and may end up with a compromise, such as discussing some related work in the introduction and other papers in a section of their own).


I've seen a variety of styles used in Computer Science. One that I personally like a lot is where the Introduction has a succinct summary of the pros and cons of related work, with a more leisurely and detailed "Related Work" section towards the end of the paper. The idea is as follows:

  1. You want to set the stage for a quick summary of the specific contributions of your own work. To do this, you need to briefly summarize the related work in the Introduction -- in particular, pointing out the problems that your work addresses.

  2. The reader's time and attention is precious, and you want to start discussing your own contributions soon instead of meandering about talking about other people's work. The initial summary is therefore necessarily brief (I'd suggest aiming to get to your research by page 2 of the paper). If necessary, include a forward pointer to the Related Work section later in the paper.


In my field (business management) this is always done in the literature review which normally follows the introduction.

Introduction This paper will show that the key to motivation within a team is.....

Literature review Jones (2012) believes that money had no influence on individual performance but this paper will show evidence which directly contradicts his claims. The fundamentals of his theory are quite strong and informed this current research; however, there were a few points that he did not seem to fully consider...

Fuller (2010) had a very thorough study of motivation and which covered interpersonal interaction quite well, however, ...

Methodology ....

I've also see some papers where people put the literature review at the end of the paper but it seems less common.

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