Writing Literature Reviews: Where Research Starts: Home

What is a Literature Review

Many students struggle with literature reviews, especially when writing theses or dissertations.  This guide along with the corresponding lecture is meant to alleviate these difficulties while helping learn to produce quality literature reviews in an efficient manner.

So what is a literature review?  To put it simply a literature review is “the process of reading, analyzing, evaluating, and summarizing scholarly materials about a specific topic.” (Richard Nordquist.  “Grammar & Composition: Literature Review”.  Accessed 5 July 2011 from http://grammar.about.com/od/il/g/literaturereviewterm.htm.)

A well written literature will:

  • shows that the writer has solid foundation,
  • adds to the credibility of the research,
  • demonstrates how the research topic fits into the discipline(s) as a whole, and
  • helps make the case for why this research is needed.

The literature review process shown in the handout shows the basic steps in writing literature reviews.  Note that literature reviews differ greatly depending upon the format and discipline.  Please let me or your subject librarian know if you need additional help.

Subject Guide

William Baer
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