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SPCH U430 - Communicating Difference in Social Institutions: Literature Review

What is a Literature Review?

A Literature Review is a systematic and comprehensive analysis of books, scholarly articles, and other sources relevant to a specific topic providing a base of knowledge on a topic. Literature reviews are designed to identify and critique the existing literature on a topic to justify your research by exposing gaps in current research. This investigation should provide a description, summary, and critical evaluation of works related to the research problem and should also add to the overall knowledge of the topic as well as demonstrating how your research will fit within a larger field of study. A literature review should offer a critical analysis of the current research on a topic and that analysis should direct your research objective. This should not be confused with a book review or an annotated bibliography both research tools but very different in purpose and scope. A Literature Review can be a stand-alone element or part of a larger end product, know your assignment. The key to a good Literature Review is to document your process.

Elements in a Literature Review

Critical Evaluation

Critical Evaluation by LKaras Work

Process of a Literature Review

LitReviewlinear2 by LKaras Work

The process of writing a literature review is not necessarily a linear process, you will often have to loop back and refine your topic, try new searches and altar your plans. The info graphic above illustrates this process.  It also reminds you to continually keep track of your research by citing sources and creating a bibliography.

  1. Topic - Decide on a research topic or question. The formulation of a thesis will help get your process started. This may have to be revisited as you work on your research.
    • Know what the review is for; each assignment will offer the purpose for the review.  For example, is it for “background”, or a “pro and con discussion”, "integration", “summarizing”, etc.
    • Create a “search plan”, decide where you will search for information, what type of information you will need.
  2. Research  - Preform Searches; choose sources and collect information to use in your paper. Make sure you cite the sources used.
  3. Think - Analyze information in a systematic manner and begin your literature review (e.g., summarize, synthesize, etc.). Make sure you cite the sources used.
  4. Complete - Write your paper, proof & revise and create your finished bibliography.

Literature Review Places to Look

places to look by LKaras Work