Your literature review gives readers an understanding of the scholarly research on your topic.
In your literature review you will:
We want to help you maintain the vision of the big picture. It’s easy to lose sight of this when you’re doing your research, following various threads of interest, sometimes getting bogged down in the details. The literature review is not a comprehensive history of your topic, but a way to provide context to your reader about research that has preceded your study.
Be aware that the literature review is an iterative process. As you read and write initial drafts, you will find new threads and complementary themes, at which point you will return to search, find out about these new themes, and incorporate them into your review.
The purpose of this guide is to help you through the literature review process. Take some time to look over the resources in order to become familiar with them. The tabs on the left side of this page have additional information.
To think about the role of the literature review, consider this analogy: pretend that you throw a dinner party for the other researchers working in your topic area. First, you’d need to develop a guest list.
After the party, you describe the evening to a friend. You’ll summarize the evening’s conversation. Perhaps one guest made a comment that sparked a conversation, and then you describe who responded and how the topic evolved. There are other conversations to share, too. This is how you synthesize the themes and developments that you find in your research. Thinking about your literature research this way will help you to present your dinner party (and your literature review) in a lively and engaging way.
Here are some useful resources from the Writing Center, the Center for Research Quality, and other departments within the Center for Academic Excellence. Take some time to look at what is available to help you with your capstone/dissertation.
You can watch recorded webinars on the literature review in our Library Webinar Archives.