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Capstone Research Support: Research 101

Literature Review

A literature review is not just a summary; you must discuss research methodology, show how it relates to other publications and how it relates to your own work. Good literature reviews answer these questions: 

  • What do you already know about the topic and its existing theories? 
  • What are the characteristics and relationships between key concepts or variables? 
  • Are there inconsistencies or other shortcomings in our current knowledge and understanding of the topic? 
  • Which evidence is lacking, inconclusive, contradictory, or otherwise limited? 
  • What is the expected contribution of the present study? 

Tips: 

  • Learn the anatomy of a scholarly article.
  • Read and write with a purpose: remember to evaluate and demonstrate relationships between each author. 
  • Organize by key concepts, not chronologically by publication date (unless developments over time are critical to your theory).
  • Don't try to read everything that was ever written about your idea. Instead, find the most relevant and significant work on your topic. 
  • Annotate each article as you read it with ideas about how it relates to previous findings. 
  • Remember to keep accurate citation information as you go along. Indicate where you have paraphrased an author's idea. 

Examples:

Picking a Topic


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Searching


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Evaluating


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