Write a Literature Review

Take a step-by-step approach to attacking a lit review.

Tip

Not every source you found should be included in your annotated bibliography or lit review. Only include the most relevant and most important sources.

Lit Review How-To Books

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Organizing Your Review

Your lit review should not be a summary and evaluation of each article, one after the other.  Your sources must be integrated together to create a narrative on your topic.  Consider the following ways to organize your review:

  • By themes, variables, issues.
  • By varying perspectives regarding a topic of controversy.
  • Chronologically, to show how the topic and research have developed over time.

Main Components of a Literature Review

  1. Introduction

    1. Describe the topic and provide a basic definition.
    2. Parameters of the topic. (What does the topic include and exclude?)
    3. Why did you select the literature you did?
  2. Body

    1. Historical background.
    2. Definitions in use.
    3. Mainstream ideas vs. alternative theoretical or ideological views.
    4. Principle questions being asked.
    5. Current research studies and discoveries.
    6. Methodologies.
    7. General conclusions.
  3. Conclusion

    1. Summary of agreements and disagreements from the literature.
    2. General conclusions.
    3. How does your thesis fit in?