writing a lit review

writing a lit review

This tutorial focuses on writing a chapter-length literature review. However, the five key points presented here will be useful for other forms of literature review:

  • a single chapter
  • segmented into a series of chapters on several topics
  • embedded in successive thematic chapters
  • a section of the introduction (in most theses there will be a short review here to justify the research, even when there is a longer review elsewhere).

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A literature review is a comprehensive summary of previous research on a topic. The literature review surveys scholarly articles, books, and other sources relevant to a particular area of research. The review should enumerate, describe, summarize, objectively evaluate and clarify this previous research. It should give a theoretical base for the research and help you (the author) determine the nature of your research. The literature review acknowledges the work of previous researchers, and in so doing, assures the reader that your work has been well conceived. It is assumed that by mentioning a previous work in the field of study, that the author has read, evaluated, and assimiliated that work into the work at hand.
A literature review creates a “landscape” for the reader, giving her or him a full understanding of the developments in the field. This landscape informs the reader that the author has indeed assimilated all (or the vast majority of) previous, significant works in the field into her or his research.

Writing a lit review
Summarize each source: Determine the most important and relevant information from each source, such as the findings, methodology, theories, etc. Consider using an article summary, or study summary to help you organize and summarize your sources.
Not every source you found should be included in your annotated bibliography or lit review. Only include the most relevant and most important sources.