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Writiing a Literature Review: Development


1.  Problem formulation -- which topic or field is being examined and what are its component issues?
2.  Literature search -- finding materials relevant to the subject being explored.
3.  Data evaluation -- determining which literature makes a significant contribution to the understanding of the topic.
4.  Analysis and interpretation -- discussing the findings and conclusions of pertinent literature.

Common Organizational Schemes

Literature reviews may group research based on:

  • similarity in concepts
  • similarity of theories of interest
  • similarity of methodology of studies reviewed
  • historical development of the field
  • trends
  • hypotheses tested
  • research results

Choosing Literature: questions to consider

How will I set the boundaries of the literature?  What are my rules for considering an article fit for review?  

What are the credentials of the authors of the sources I choose?  Are their arguments supported by evidence?

Are the authors subjective?  Did they consider both supporting and contrary data?

Have I included sources that offer alternative interpretations, or have I only chosen sources which validate my assumption?

Does the source contribute to the understanding of the topic?

How do these sources relate to my research question?