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Literature Reviews

Purpose of Literature Reviews

Literature reviews are critical evaluations of published scholarship. Think of your literature review as an explanation of how your research fits into the broader conversation on this topic. Often, dissertations and thesis require a literature review section. Sometimes, the literature review is the most challenging part of writing a dissertation or thesis.

Purpose:

  • Define and clarify the research topic or problem
  • Summarize scholarship (also called literature) as a whole body of work rather than just listing sources
  • Identify and discuss relationships between scholarship
  • Identify gaps or questions left unanswered by the scholarship
  • Place your work within the context of previously published scholarship

American Psychological Association. (2010). Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.). Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association.

Tips on Writing a Literature Review

DO:

  •  Include an introduction, body and conclusion
  • Detail your thesis statement which focuses on a particular correlation, relationship, value, or interpretation within the scholarship
  • Critically evaluate the literature while providing an overview of the literature

AVOID:

  • Summarizing without critiquing the literature
  • Overloading the review; provide only sources that relate to your topic
  • Plagiarizing
  • Incomplete references; make sure to keep detailed notes of the literature you are evaluating

American Psychological Association. (2010). Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.). Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association.