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Q. I need to write a Literature Review. Help!

My instructor assigned a literature review for a topic in my field. What is that and how do I start?

Answered By: Beth Juhl
Last Updated: Sep 28, 2016     Views: 217

"A literature review surveys scholarly articles, books and other sources relevant to a particular issue, area of research, or theory, and by so doing, providing a description, summary, and critical evaluation of these works."

Source: Organizing Your Social Sciences Research Paper, Research Guide, University of Southern California Libraries.

The first step in writing a literature review is to conduct a comprehensive survey of the published articles, books, and other sources on your topic. View our research resources by subject to get an idea of recommended databases for your topic.   Contact your subject librarian if you need help in conducting a thorough survey.

The next steps will be to organize the research articles and books you have located, to describe their relationships to one another, and to identify key themes, findings, and areas needing more research. 

As you can see, writing a literature review is a multi-step process and not an assignment that can be done overnight.  Give yourself time to do a good job. 

The Libraries offer a LibGuide on researching and writing a literature review

The University's Class+ Writing Support, formerly the Quality Writing Center (QWC), can offer suggestions on any writing assignment. 

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