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What is a literature review?
A literature review is a comprehensive survey of scholarly articles, books, and other resources on a specific topic that summarizes and evaluates each source. The purpose of a literature review is to present an overview of current knowledge on a particular topic.
A literature review can be part of a research article or an assignment your professor assigns. Either way, the steps for writing a literature review are the same:
- Identify Your Topic – What question are you researching? What are important issues related to that question?
- Search the Literature – Find sources such as scholarly articles, books, videos, etc. that address your topic.
- Evaluate the Literature – Evaluate your sources to identify those that contribute to key aspects and understanding of your topic.
- Analyze and Synthesize the Literature – Summarize and critique your selected sources.
As you find scholarly articles, read the abstract, introduction, and conclusion to determine if it is a good source for your literature review. Think about the following questions:
- Author(s) - Is the author an academic, researcher, journalist, etc?
- Date - When was the article published? Is it still relevant?
- Journal Information - Is this journal scholarly or peer-reviewed?
- Audience - Who is the article written to, academics, researchers, non-researchers, etc.?
- Methods - Were human subjects used? How were participants chosen? What type of experiment did the authors perform? What test instruments did the authors use? Are the test instruments valid or reliable? What are the independent and dependent variables?
- Results - What did the authors discover? Are the results statistically significant?
- Discussion - What are some limitations of this study? What are suggestions for future studies?
- Presentation - Does the author include graphs, tables, or pictures?
- Bibliography - Does the author cite other credible sources?