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This guide is created primarily for the students in Dr. Laurie Henry's EDCI 800 RESEARCH SEMINAR I: WRITING THE LITERATURE REVIEW  course.


What is a Literature Review?

Literature – on-going scholarly communication/conversation/body of work

Review – ‘re-views’ looks again at what others have said, done, in a particular area, re-examine

  • it is organized around and related directly to the thesis or research question you are developing
  • it synthesizes results into a summary of what is and is not known; needs to be an integrated analyses and not just a summary of other works
  • it identifies areas of controversy in the literature
  • it formulates questions that need further research
  • it is recursive – repeating steps out-of-order

  • it is part of a larger research paper but can also stand on its own depending on the assignment from your faculty


“A literature review is a written document that presents a logically argued case founded on a comprehensive understanding of the current state of knowledge about a topic of study. This case establishes a convincing thesis to answer the study’s question.”

Source: Machi & McEvoy (2009). The Literature Review: Six steps to success

What it is not?

Literature Review is NOT an annotated bibliography!

It is NOT a research paper where you select resources to argue the issue from one perspective.

Coopers Taxonomy


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Mou Chakraborty