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Human Development Research Guide

What is a Literature Review?

A literature review is a review of the research that has been done on your topic. A literature review is NOT just a summary, but a conceptually organized synthesis of the results of your search. It must:

  • organize information and relate it to the thesis or research question you are developing
  • synthesize and critically analyze the results comparing and contrasting their findings
  • identify controversy and themes that appear in the literature

Avoid listing or summarizing one piece of literature after another. It's usually a bad sign to see every paragraph beginning with the name of a researcher. Instead, organize the literature review into sections that present themes or identify trends, including relevant theory. 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. (Adapted from Univ. of Toronto)

Check out the sites below for more detailed help understanding literature reviews.

Tips

  1. Use the bibliographies of articles you've already found to find more articles.
  2. Paste the title of a relevant article into Google Scholar CSUSM and use the "related articles" and "cited by" feature to find more like it.