How To Write A Literature Review

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					Many college writing assignments start with a requirement for a literature review,
perhaps of five peer-reviewed sources that are informative of the chosen topic. The
sources often have to be summarized and justified as to how they will be useful or
important in the eventual paper. Once a literature search has been performed,
choosing the sources to include in the review and writing the assignment becomes
easier. Here are tips to make a literature review a walk in the park. Choose the Best
General Sources In a literature review, it is often most helpful to spend time reading,
digesting, and summarizing sources that provide strong background information on
the topic. By selecting references that go over the basics of a topic or idea in detail,
the student is guaranteed a firmer understanding of the subject, which will make
future research and writing on the topic much easier. Choose Sources to Direct the
Paper Before a literature review is performed (but after a basic literature search has
been completed) the student should have a basic outline of the content and flow of the
paper he or she will be writing. This way, the student can choose a piece of literature
for each main section or aspect of the future paper to include in the review. Read,
Read, Think, Read Begin the literature review process by reading over the chosen
source briefly to make sure that it is an appropriate source (peer-reviewed if necessary)
containing pertinent and high-quality information. The more effort put into finding
good sources at the beginning, the easier it will be to write a well-informed paper after
the review process. Once a source is chosen for the review and considered to be
trustworthy and relevant, the student should read the source in detail. In many
scientific fields, it is difficult to understand technical processes or descriptions the
first time around. While reading, take notes of what is confusing, what seems
important, what might be useful to the future paper, and what might be important to
read more about elsewhere. After reviewing the notes and looking up confusing terms,
think about how this source will fit into the review and into the final paper. Read the
paper or source again to cement a clear understanding of the material, keeping
potential key points for inclusion in the review in mind. Summarizing Sources in a
Literature Review After performing the reading and note-taking steps above, take time
to consider the most relevant points of the article or source for the review assignment.
Virtually all review assignments will require a brief summary of the main points.
Most academic articles have a set format for publication in journals (for instance,
scientific papers have the introduction, methods, results, and conclusions). These
divisions are provided, so make use of them. Depending on the length of the
assignment, allot a few sentences (more or less) to each section in the summary
explanation. This forces the student to pick out the key points in each aspect of the
paper. If the source for the review is an unstructured book or article, plan out the
important points for commentary before writing the review. Consider the notes taken
during readings and whether those points are the most important for the final paper.
Why is this source a good choice? What were the main points the author tried to
communicate? What was the theme or central argument of the publication? Finish the
Synopsis with a Justification Explain to the professor why the source deserves to be
included in the review. Is it a groundbreaking publication in the field? Are the sources'
authors considered experts on the topic? Does a paper look at exactly the dimension
of the issue the student was hoping to explore? Does a particular source dissect the
variety of opposing viewpoints on the topic? These basic steps should assist students
in performing a basic summary-based literature review. Critical reviews of the
literature include additional considerations that often incorporate more student
examination and opinion in the assignment.
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