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Writing a literature review What is a literature review? A literature review is a critical analysis of published sources, or literature, on a particular topic. It is an assessment of the literature and provides a summary, classification, comparison and evaluation.
At postgraduate level literature reviews can be incorporated into an article, a research report or thesis. At undergraduate level literature reviews can be a separate stand alone assessment. The literature review is generally in the format of a standard essay made up of three components: It is not a list like an annotated bibliography in which a summary of each source is listed one by one.
Why do we write literature reviews? At university you may be asked to write a literature review in order to demonstrate your understanding of the literature on a particular topic.
You show your understanding by analysing and then synthesising the information to: What are you being asked to do in your literature review?
What are you searching the literature to discover? Check your assignment question and your criteria sheet to know what to focus on. Do an extensive search of the literature Find out what has been written on the topic.
What kind of literature?
Select appropriate source material: Use a variety of academic or scholarly sources that are relevant, current and authoritative.
An extensive review of relevant material will include — books, journal articles, reports, government documents, conference proceedings and web resources. The Library would be the best place to search for your sources.
The number of sources that you will be required to review will depend on what the literature review is for and how advanced you are in your studies. It could be from five sources at first year undergraduate level to more than fifty for a thesis.
Your lecturer will advise you on these details. These details will save you time later. Read the literature Critically read each source, look for the arguments presented rather than for facts. Take notes as you read and start to organise your review around themes and ideas.
Consider using a table, matrix or concept map to identify how the different sources relate to each other. Analyse the literature you have found In order for your writing to reflect strong critical analysis, you need to evaluate the sources.
For each source you are reviewing ask yourself these questions: What are the key terms and concepts? How relevant is this article to my specific topic? What are the major relationships, trends and patterns? How has the author structured the arguments?
How authoritative and credible is this source? What are the differences and similarities between the sources?A literature review surveys books, scholarly articles, and any other sources relevant to a particular issue, area of research, or theory, and by so doing, provides a description, summary, and critical evaluation of these works in relation to the research problem being investigated.
This guide will provide research and writing tips to help students complete a literature review assignment. A literature review may consist of simply a summary of key sources, but in the social sciences, a literature review usually has an organizational pattern and combines both summary and synthesis, often within specific conceptual categories.
A summary is a recap of the important information of the source, but a synthesis is a re-organization, or a . History: The chronological progression of the field, the literature, or an idea that is necessary to understand the literature review, if the body of the literature review is not already a chronology.
A literature review is the effective evaluation of selected documents on a research topic. A review may form an essential part of the research process or may constitute a research project in itself. In the context of a research paper or thesis the literature review is a critical synthesis of previous research.
A literature review is a critical analysis of published sources, or literature, on a particular topic. It is an assessment of the literature and provides a summary, classification, comparison and evaluation.