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COGS 191-01: Senior COGS Thesis

What does a literature review do?

The most important aspects of your literature review are:

  • to make clear to your readers that you are indeed familiar with the existing scholarship and research relevant to your topic. In other words, it establishes that you've done your homework.
  • to demonstrate to your readers how your work builds upon earlier research and offers answers to unanswered questions. In other words, it explains how and why your work adds to intellectual endeavor in your field.

Because your literature review should do all of the above, it should:

  • be organized around and related directly to your topic or research question;
  • offer a clear and concise summary of the knowns and unknowns in your field;
  • point out controversies and areas of uncertainty in the literature; and
  • point out issues and questions needing additional research and answers.