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Literature Reviews (or Reviews of the Literature) - Old

Defines "literature review" and provides resources for how to find them and/or to write them.

What is a Literature Review?

·         An examination of the significant works (books, scholarly articles, dissertations, and other works) published on a particular issue, area of research, or theory which provides a critical evaluation of each significant work.

·         Focuses on what is known about a specific topic and what methodologies, theses, and models have been applied to that research by other works.

·         Highlights areas of the research topic that appear to need additional research in order to reach a conclusion.

·         Provides background for the issue/topic and puts it into a chronological and/or historical perspective.

·         Clarifies areas where there is consensus (and not) within the prior research.

·         Indicates which information will be most useful to the current research (if the literature review is a part of a larger report).

Tutorial: The Literature Review or Review of the Literature

Types of Literature Reviews:

1.       A self-contained review of writings on a subject.

o   Contains no additional research to present.

o   Summarizes and explains the arguments and ideas of others.

o   Offers conclusions and opinions identifying the research works that provide significant contributions to the development and understanding of the subject at hand.



2.       An  essential piece of a larger work (i.e., scholarly article, dissertation, or thesis).

o   Offers an overview of relevant research conducted on the topic at the beginning of the work.

o   Used as a foundation to which the researcher will link his/her new research findings.



Subject Guide

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Jennifer McKay
Office Hours:
COE Student Services
PSB 218C
Phone 907-786-1977

Lit. Review Websites

Consult these websites for more information about how to write a literature review:

 -      Graduate Writing Workshops: Literature Reviews (OWL at Purdue)

·         Write a Literature Review (UC Santa Cruz)

·         Review of Literature (UW Madison Writing Center)