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Library Guide to SIP Research

Each SIP is unique. These resources and suggestions do not replace guidance given by departments or advisors.

What's the purpose of a Literature Review?

  • Explain the background of research on a topic, illuminates what has been researched

  • Demonstrate why a topic is significant to a subject area

  • Identify major themes, concepts, and researchers on a topic

  • Highlight critical gaps, points of disagreement, or potentially flawed methodology or theoretical approaches

  • Discuss further research questions that logically come out of the previous studies

A literature review is a systematic review of the published literature on a specific topic or research question. The literature review is designed to analyze-- not just summarize-- scholarly writings that are related directly to your research question.

Points to Keep in Mind

Literature Reviews are sometimes one part of a scholarly article, sometimes they are the whole article.

  • A literature review is organized around ideas that are illuminated in sources, not the sources themselves. 
  • A literature review is not a list of sources with detail about each one of them.
  • As you read widely and also selectively on your topic area, consider what themes or issues connect your sources.
  • Pick one of these themes to focus the organization of your literature review.
    • Do the sources present one or different solutions?

    • Is there an aspect of the field that is missing in the sources you read?

    • How well do the sources present the material and do they portray it according to an appropriate theory?

    • Do they reveal a trend in the field?  Or a raging debate?

Be selective

Use quotes sparingly

Summarize and synthesize

Keep your own voice

Use caution when paraphrasing

Helpful Sites

Thank you to these universities for providing inspiration for the above content.