Literature reviews are a unique academic genre.
They can often be written differently than standard academic essays (even though many academic papers contain literature reviews), and they often have no set rules or formulas to follow.
One place to get help on writing literature reviews is the VIU Writing Centre, where you can meet with tutors who can help you understand the literature review writing process.
A literature review is a written overview of what has been said in books, articles, reports, and other types of resources about a particular topic.
Literature reviews are more common in graduate studies (e.g., masters level or PhD studies) than in undergraduate work, but in many courses in bachelor's degree programs, you might be asked by an instructor to provide a report that serves as a literature review.
Literature reviews commonly do one or more of the following things:
Often, literature reviews are used to make a case for your particular study or research project. What commonly happens in literature reviews are the following:
Unfortunately, there's no set answer for this question.
The main piece of advice to follow when writing a literature review is to consult with your instructor or, if you're developing your thesis in a graduate program, your thesis advisor or supervisor.
Some instructors for some assignments prescribe a shorter length for a literature review section as part of a larger paper. It is possible that some literature review assignments are as short as a single page (double-spaced).
However, other instructors or other projects demand a much longer, more exhaustive searching of the literature. In graduate programs, literature reviews on the order of 10-50 pages are common.
One question often asked is this: Do I have to write the same amount of text or analysis for each item in my literature review?
The answer to this is: No.
Here are some tips to consider:
Current research in this area emphasizes the economic issues surrounding this particular phenomenon. Patterson (2003), St. Hubert (2001), and Kondrashova (2011) all consider microeconomic factors such as ..."
|E.g., "Smith (2008) deals extensively with economic issues, while Brown (2010) and Zhang (2011; 2013) consider social issues such as .... De La Hoya (2009), however, approaches the issue from a completely different way, typically employing a linguistic perspective."|
|E.g.,"While Dalhberg (1999; 2001; 2002; 2014) is the leading researcher in this area, his perspectives are being challenged by Franklin (2006), Nero (2007), and Fontina (2011), who question the traditional framework and consider alternate points of view. Fontina's emerging views on the subject (2011; 2012) are particularly important, as her work has been praised outside North America, especially by major commentators such as Haddad (2013) and Okumura (2014). What makes Fontina's work particularly impressive are her ideas about ..."|
[Note: Examples above are formatted in APA citation style. Sometimes multiple years are put in parentheses in order to cite mutiple articles or books by the same individual that deal with a similar issue, but have been published at different times.]
Citing Your Sources: Check VIU Library's guide to information on using well known citation styles such as APA, MLA, and Chicago.
Here are other guides or resources you can check out for help on developing literature reviews:
Libraries of Adelphi University (Conducting a Literature Review in Education and the Behavioral Sciences): Adelphi has produced a series of clear step-by-step instructional modules that guide you through the process of doing a literature review.
University of Calgary (Doing Literature Reviews): This guide is helpful in breaking down steps in writing literature reviews and provides strategies for searching for information. Much of the information in this VIU guide was adapted from this source.
Concordia University Libraries (How to write a literature review): A very clear guide on the literature review process.
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