Doing a Literature Review

• What is a literature review? • It is an account of what has been published on a topic by recognized scholars and researchers, and is frequently a required part of the introduction to an essay, research report or thesis. • The literature review should communicate to your reader what knowledge and ideas have been established on a topic, and what their strengths and weaknesses are. • As you plan, let yourself be guided by your own research objective, the problem or issue you are discussing, or your argumentative thesis. • What are the characteristics of a good literature review? The literature review is far more than a descriptive list of resources you found on a topic. It should: • be organized into sections that present themes or identify trends and also relate to your research question • synthesize results into a summary of what is and is not known • identify areas of controversy in the literature • formulate questions that need further research. • How can I choose what to include? Ask yourself these questions about each book or article you include: • Has the author stated a problem or issue? Is it clearly defined? • Is the significance (scope, urgency, relevance) of the problem clearly established? • Does the author evaluate the literature relevant to the problem or issue? • Does the author include literature representing positions she or he does not agree with? • If the article or book is about a research study, is the study well designed and executed?

• Does this book or article contribute to our understanding of the problem or issue? • How does this book or article relate to the specific thesis or question I am proposing?

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