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How to Write a Literature Review

The Lakehead Orillia Library presents some helpful tips on how to conduct a literature review.
by

Lakehead Orillia Library

on 3 January 2013

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Transcript of How to Write a Literature Review

The Steps of Writing a
Literature Review Step 2: Identify the Literature Who are the leading experts, scholars, researchers, or theorists on the topic you wish to research?

What are the groundbreaking, controversial, and commonly-accepted viewpoints on this topic?

Possible resources include:
Books, journals, studies, conference proceedings, statistics, even websites! Just make sure that it's a credible source. Step 3: Critically Analyze the Literature To identify credible resources and critically analyze them, consider: authorship, objectivity, content, and coverage.

Authorship: What are the author's qualifications?

Objectivity: Is there any sort of bias?

Content: Is the content accurate? Are the author's claims well-supported?

Coverage: How comprehensive is the coverage? Are certain aspects of a topic ignored? Who is the intended audience? Step 5: Start Writing! A Literature Review: Provides an overview of a topic

Synthesizes and critiques the arguments of leading scholars relevant to your topic

Illustrates how your research is going to contrast, extend, or fill a gap in the existing research on your topic Step 4: Categorize Your Resources Do: Begin your research early!
Check with your professor and/or assignment handout about how to format your literature review
Narrow down your topic to a specific research question
Take notes as you read and select your resources
Consult with library staff if you need assistance! Don't: Treat resources individually; instead, synthesize the arguments and theories that are relevant to your research
List authors or book titles; instead, incorporate them into paragraphs as you synthesize and critique the existing literature on your topic
Try to cover everything that is written on a specific topic; instead, stick to the main arguments and theories of the leading scholars that are relevant to your research question Your library has books on how to write literature reviews! Questions? Comments? Contact the library!
orlib@lakeheadu.ca
705-330-4008 ext. 2250 Step 1: Formulate Your Research Question What are you genuinely interested in learning more about?

Do some preliminary research on your topic, to see what has already been said about the general topic you're interested in.

While researching, take note of anything that piques your curiosity and leaves you wanting to know more about a particular person, event, study, etc.
What has you asking "why" or "how" something happened?
These "why" and "how" questions are the beginning of your research question! Do you notice recurring themes in what researchers are saying on your topic, or similar viewpoints?

If so, categorize similar resources together. This will help you later on when you're writing your literature review.

When you address a particular sub-topic or viewpoint in a paragraph, you'll already have a list of the resources that address that viewpoint. Be sure to check with your professor for their preferred format for your literature review!

Some common characteristics of literature reviews:
Introduction
Research question
Important definitions of terms relevant to your research
Body (synthesize and critique existing literature and describe how your research will fit in)
Conclusion We can also show you some websites with other helpful tips for writing literature reviews.
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