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literature review academic writing

literature review academic writing

Rudestam, K.E. and Newton, R.R. (1992) Surviving your dissertation: A comprehensive guide to content and process. California: Sage, p49.

The Reading strategies page includes advice on using books and articles and a notes record sheet grid you can use.

  • a description of the publication;
  • a summary of the publication’s main points;
  • a discussion of gaps in research;
  • an evaluation of the publication’s contribution to the topic.

The purpose of a literature review is to provide a review of writings on the given topic in order to establish the reviewer’s own position in the existing field of scholarship on that topic. A literature review provides a reader with a comprehensive look at previous discussions prior to the one the reviewer will be making in his/her own research paper, thesis, or dissertation. In short, a literature review shows readers where the reviewer is entering the academic conversation on a particular topic in the context of existing scholarship.

Literature review academic writing

  1. Define your subject and the scope of the review.
  2. Search the library catalogue, subject specific databases and other search tools to find sources that are relevant to your topic.
  3. Read and evaluate the sources and to determine their suitability to the understanding of topic at hand (see the Evaluating sources section).
  4. Analyse, interpret and discuss the findings and conclusions of the sources you selected.

Literature reviews are often published as scholarly articles, books, and reports. Here is an example of a recent literature review published as a scholarly journal article:

Literature review academic writing

  • Summarize and synthesize: give an overview of the main points of each source and combine them into a coherent whole
  • Analyze and interpret: don’t just paraphrase other researchers — add your own interpretations where possible, discussing the significance of findings in relation to the literature as a whole
  • Critically evaluate: mention the strengths and weaknesses of your sources
  • Write in well-structured paragraphs: use transition words and topic sentences to draw connections, comparisons and contrasts

When you’ve finished writing and revising your literature review, don’t forget to proofread thoroughly before submitting. Our quick guide to proofreading offers some useful tips and tricks!

Merriam’s statement was made in 1988, since which time there has been further extension of the concept of being ‘published’ within the academic context. The term now encompasses a wide range of web-based sources, in addition to the more traditional books and print journals.
These are questions that you will already probably be asking yourself.

References:

http://writingcenter.ashford.edu/writing-literature-review
http://library.concordia.ca/help/writing/literature-review.php
http://www.scribbr.com/dissertation/literature-review/
http://www2.le.ac.uk/offices/ld/all-resources/writing/writing-resources/literature-review
http://writingcenter.ashford.edu/writing-literature-review