You are not trying to list all the material published, but to synthesize and evaluate it according to the guiding concept of your thesis or research question If you are writing an annotated bibliography, you may need to summarize. Harvard Library CC BY Copyright Statement. You may be able to write a paragraph or so to introduce the focus of each section. It is not just a descriptive list of the material available, or a set of summaries. A literature review must do these things be organized around and related directly to the thesis or research question you are developing synthesize results into a summary of what is and is not known identify areas of controversy in the literature. Can you deconstruct the flow of the argument to see whether or where it breaks down logically (e.g., in establishing cause-effect relationships)? This guide was produced under a Harvard University CIO Library Information Technology Fellows program grant (2011-2012 Project Management and Content Development : Deborah Garson (Project Head) Carla Lillvik. Are the conclusions validly based upon the data and analysis? Unless an exception applies, certain textual content on this web page is subject.
Students often misinterpret the term "literature review" to mean merely a collection of source summaries, similar to annotations or article abstracts. Besides enlarging your knowledge about the topic, writing a literature review lets you gain and demonstrate skills in two areas information seeking : the ability to scan the literature efficiently, using manual or computerized methods, to identify a set. Has my search been wide enough to ensure Ive found all the relevant material? Although summarizing is an element of a literature review, the purpose is to create a comprehensive representation of your understanding of a topic or area of research, such as what has already been done or what has been found. Ask yourself questions like these about each book or article you include: Has the author formulated a problem/issue? Has the author evaluated the literature relevant to the problem/issue?
Is it clearly defined? How does the author structure the argument? Is the analysis of the data accurate and relevant to the research question? M.'12, e-Lecture Narrators : Eve Ewing and, marc Johnson,. Has it been narrow enough to exclude irrelevant material? What type of literature review am I conducting? Candidates, special thanks to the students and faculty of the Harvard Graduate School of Education; the staffs of the Gutman Library Research Services and of the Learning Technologies Center; and our colleagues at NC State Libraries. Have I critically analysed the literature I use? Usually you will have the option of grouping items into sectionsthis helps you indicate comparisons and relationships.
How does this book or article relate to the specific thesis or question I am developing? What types of publications am I using (e.g., journals, books, government documents, popular media)? When compiling multiple sources, a tendency can be to summarize each source and then compare and contrast the sources at the end. Will the reader find my literature review relevant, appropriate, and useful? Authors use this review of literature to create a foundation and justification for their research or to demonstrate knowledge on the current state of a field. Then, also using these sources, you can demonstrate the need for future research, specifically, your future research. Its usually a bad sign to see every paragraph beginning with the name of a researcher.
Headings in a literature review can also help you as the writer organize your material by theme and note any layers, or subtopics, within the field. Ask yourself questions like these: What is the specific thesis, problem, or research question that my literature review helps to define? Show relationships and consider the flow of ideas. What is the authors research orientation (e.g., interpretive, critical science, combination)? Transitions and comparison terms will allow you to demonstrate where authors agree or disagree on a topic and highlight your interpretation of the literature.
How good was my information seeking? Am I looking at issues of theory? What is the authors theoretical framework (e.g., psychological, developmental, feminist)? Occasionally you will be asked to write one as a separate assignment (sometimes in the form of an annotated bibliography see the bottom of the next page but more often it is part of the introduction to an essay, research report, or thesis. Is there an objective basis to the reasoning, or is the author merely proving what he or she already believes?