A lit review surveys, summarizes, and links information about a given topic. It's a synthesis of information relevant to your work.
A good lit review assesses this information and distills it for the reader.
The best lit reviews tell a good story.
What's your current knowledge on the topic?
Do you know what you don't know?
This is an iterative process, meaning that you're going to come back to defining and refining your topic several times. But it's easier if you begin focused and with some general knowledge already.
Develop a set of questions to be applied to all of the articles.
The literature you choose will inform and underpin everything you write, so plan your searches carefully!
This is where I come in. My contact information is on this page for you to use! Let me know what I can do to help.
Using high quality sources
Using a variety of sources
Mining references for sources, looking for repetitions and reviews
Connecting the dots
When you're gathering information for your lit review, you won't use everything you collect. Only use the best sources.
Perspective and/or bias
Reasons for publishing
Significance of findings
Look for flawed reasoning or fallacies, alternative explanations, omissions.
Highlighting is good for skimming.
Margin notes suggest your analysis and connections of the material.
Outlines may be useful for complex or important works.
Spreadsheets help track numerous sources across consistent variables or metrics.
Checklists help track progress and connections.
Summaries (written in your own words) help keep you on track and your sources straight.
A list of who said what is the starting point, not the final product.
Tell the story, make your case.
Use your own words.
Write to your audience.
Make connections for your readers.
Let it sit.
Get outside opinions and assistance.
Don't rush this step!
When you're ready, continue with the questions for revision below.
Thank you to the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs School of Public Affairs, Purdue University's Online Writing Lab, the Libraries at Virginia Commonwealth University, and our Queens Writing Center for much of the information on this page.