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Literature Reviews

Introduction

A literature review provides an overview of the scholarly information published to date on a specific topic, summarizing and synthesizing the ideas presented. At the undergraduate level, a literature review differs from a research paper in that no new primary research is presented. At the graduate level, literature reviews often constitute a chapter of a thesis or dissertation and provide an intellectual context for the author's own research.

The literature review differs from an annotated bibliography: it is a narrative document that synthesizes the sources consulted to develop a conclusion. An annotated bibliography deals with each resource in turn, describing and evaluating the source in a single paragraph.

Literature Review Process

  • Decide on your topic. Begin with an Overview of the topic, including the thesis statement for the review
  • Search relevant databases and library catalogs to Locate Sources
  • Write an Annotation for each source, placing it in the context of its contribution to the research on the topic.
  • Organize the Sources into categories - e.g. those that support one position, those against the position, those that offer an alternative thesis. You may also choose to organize your sources in chronological order.
  • Connect Sources - explain how each source relates to other sources
  • Conclusion - discuss which sources are most effective in supporting their position and which sources contribute the most to the current understanding of the topic

Ron Gilmour

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Ron Gilmour
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Subjects: IC Library