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Writing 131 (Ruiz): What is a Literature Review?

Journal Production

Literature Review Basics

  • The term "literature" refers to any collection of materials on a topic, not necessarily literary works like To Kill a Mockingbird or The Scarlet Letter.
  • A literature review is a summary and synthesis of original research articles/publications.
  • Sources used in a literature review should be original research, not other literature reviews.
  • A literature review should include the most "important" articles published on the topic.
  • A literature review should provide readers with a comprehensive foundation on the topic.
  • A literature review may provide a new interpretation of synthesized information.
  • The focus of a literature review should be fairly narrow.

Resources for Writing a Literature Review

Organizing a Literature Review

Literature review must contain at least three basic elements:

  • Introduction: Gives a brief idea of the subject of the literature review.
  • Body: Includes a discussion of sources. Can be organized in different ways
    • chronological - look at the issue over time or order of publications
    • thematic - organize around topic or subtopics related to the subject
    • methodological - organize based on the methods used by researchers or writers
  • Conclusions/Recommendations: Sum up what you have drawn from the literature and discuss implications or need for forther research.