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Getting Started on Your Literature Review   Tags: lit review, literature review  

Last Updated: Feb 15, 2017 URL: Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

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In This Guide

Literature Review Overview

A literature review surveys scholarly articles, books, dissertations, conference proceedings and other resources which are relevant to a particular issue, area of research, or theory and provides context for a thesis or dissertation by identifying past research. Research tells a story and the existing literature helps us identify where we are in the story currently. It is up to those writing a thesis or dissertation to continue that story with new research and new perspectives.

Purpose of a Literature Review

  • Identifies gaps in current knowledge
  • Helps you to avoid reinventing the wheel by discovering the research already conducted on a topic
  • Sets the background on what has been explored on a topic so far
  • Increases your breadth of knowledge in your area of research
  • Helps you identify seminal works in your area
  • Allows you to provide the intellectual context for your work and position your research with other, related research
  • Provides you with opposing viewpoints
  • Helps you to discover research methods which may be applicable to your work

A Good Literature Review

  • Provides a critical look at the existing research that is related or valuable to your study
  • Summarizes relevant research
  • Evaluates those studies
  • Shows relationships between different studies
  • Relates these studies to your work



    Literature Review Video

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Some FAQs and who you should ask

    • How do I come up with my research topic or question? (Advisor)
    • What kind of literature review is appropriate for my research topic or question? (Advisor)
    • How much literature should I use when writing my literature review? (Advisor)
    • How can I make certain that I've found all the literature on my topic? (Advisor & Liaison Librarian)
    • How can I be sure that I have found the most authoritative information? (Advisor & Liaison Librarian)
    • How should I organize my research? What citation management program is best for me? (Liaison Librarian)
    • Where can I find help with writing and editing? (Writing Center on 2nd floor Morris Library)
    • What citation style should I use for my thesis or dissertation? (Advisor)
    • Who do I contact for help formatting my thesis or dissertation? (Thesis/Dissertation Support on 1st floor Morris Library) 

      Contact Morris

      Morris Library
      Southern Illinois University
      Carbondale, IL 62901
      Information Desk: (618) 453-2818
      Administrative Office: (618) 453-2522
      Circulation Desk: (618) 453-1455

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