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Writing A Literature Review For A Research Paper: 5 Things You Should Know
When writing a research paper you’ll need to include a literature review section which will summarize the work that has already been done around the topic you are researching. The literature review section of your paper will be slightly different from the rest of it, in that you should show the major areas of research with the subject and the breakthroughs, advancements, or turning points in it, citing specific studies, papers, or books, rather than just presenting the information from those sources.
To write a literature review for a research paper, be sure to keep these 5 things in mind:
- Not all sources are created equal
- Keep track of sources in a running bibliography
- Take good notes as you do your research
- Focus your literature review around pivotal works
- Give a comprehensive overview of the relevant field
While researching your topic you may find a wide variety of different kinds of sources, from books to journal articles to magazine and newspaper articles to websites. But you should always keep in mind that not all sources are created equal. Where are general rules about what sources are considered appropriate academic sources, which you should observe. But even within academic journal articles you should try to find the most recent articles from the most prominent journals. Similarly, while some website sources are acceptable, try to only use ones that are affiliated with government agencies or reputable organizations.
One of the more difficult parts of writing a literature review is keeping track of all the sources that you come across. Keep a running bibliography with sections including sources cited, sources to cite, sources consulted, and sources to consult. When you find a good source, add it to the appropriate section.
In the same way that keeping track of sources can be a challenge, keeping track of your notes can be difficult. Decide if you want to organize your notes by source or by topic. Either way, be sure to cross reference your notes with the other.
Your literature review should be organized around pivotal and most relevant works for the subject you are researching. These should make up the bulk of your review, with smaller works connecting them.
Even with the pivotal works of your field guiding your review, you should also be careful to provide a comprehensive overview of the field so that someone reading your review could walk away with a fairly complete knowledge of it.