How to Write a Literature
Readings in Your Research
What is a Good RRL
A lit review is not a report Rather, a lit review is a
that summarizes relevant cohesive account of important
bodies of works and
articles and books one by
arguments in your discipline,
one sequentially. and the articles and books
that are a part of these bodies
of work and arguments. The
trick is to choose the bodies
of work that are most relevant
to your project.
Literature reviews don’t A good literature review
have to be necessarily must be comprehensive.
As you summarize the Relate each piece of
literature, be careful that research to the broader
you're not just discussing research question, and
each piece of writing in a relate individual pieces
vacuum of research to each other
Be careful not to make For example, if you're
your lit review too broad writing about the effects
of squash seeds on the
On the other hand, don't growth of chickens
make your lit review too there's no need to
narrow include a background
discussion of how
squash are grown.
How to write a Literature
• Step 1: Read a lot.
Read with care and purpose
Look carefully at the references
Read from tangentially related fields
• Step 2: Define the area.
It is important to know what that body of
knowledge says so that we know where our own
work should go, and, ultimately, does go.
Keep in mind that when you are reviewing the
literature, typically you are looking at the
literature that deals with your particular area.
• Step 3: Keep track of all of this
Write down all bibliographic information on the
copy of the article.
Write note cards and bibliog. cards
• Step 4: Write it up.
When writing a literature review, keep in mind
that you are reviewing the literature, not
Your research has something to do with the
effects of squash seeds on the growth of
A similar study:The effects of organic feeds on
the growth of squirrels
• You do not want to do this:
• Smith (1978) conducted a 3x3x3 factorial design
to study squirrels. He concentrated on brown
squirrels, stating “flying squirrels are just too
damn unpredictable to study” (page 54). 1000
squirrels were broken into six groups and given
the choice of nuts to eat. 1 group was given
nothing but pecans, the other nothing but
acorns, and then allowed to switch, BLAH,
BLAH, BLAH, BLAH......
You may write this instead:
• Smith (1978) found that squirrels fed with
acorn nuts had a higher mean growth than
squirrels fed with pecan nuts.
• Then relate this information to your own
• The most common mistakes students
make are that they don’t do enough
literature, or they do too much literature, or
they summarize the literature rather than
• Remember that you are trying to set the
stage for your own work and therefore
your discussions about it is important.
• Read some literature reviews to find out
how others have done this. See what you
like, and what you do not like.
• Check our research area/library for
researches done and their literature