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What is a Literature Review?
A literature review is an in-depth critical analysis of published scholarly research related to a specific topic. A solid literature review must:
- Be organized around & relate directly to your research question
- Synthesize results into a summary what is known, or not known on the topic
- Identify common themes that emerge from the literature
- Identify areas of controversy in the literature
- Formulate questions that need further research
Adapted from: Literature Review - A Self-Guided Tutorial, created by Kathleen Hanna, with contributions from Sara Lowe and Ted Polley. Lcensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Literature Reviews: Getting Started
Literature Review Steps
Always look to your assignment guidelines and rubric. Literature reviews serve a variety of purposes, and assignments can look very different.
1. Define your topic or question.
2. Develop and document your search strategy.
- Select the databases you will be searching (CINAHL, PubMED, PsycINFO)
- Identify keywords and subject headings to use in your search
- Craft your database search using OR / AND
- Document: Keep notes on databases & keywords used, search strategy, and result count (#)
3. Select and evaluate:
- Identify quality research articles that answer aspects of your question / topic
- You may wish to use a critical appraisal checklist to help with assessing quality and generalizability
- Read articles closely, looking for common themes. You may wish to use an article synthesis matrix
4. Writing your literature review:
- Summarize the articles and synthesize findings on common themes Identify any gaps, controversies, etc.
- Be sure to include a clear introduction or background and conclusion / summary to your review. Check assignment guidelines.
- Follow APA style for an APA paper, with in-text citations throughout, and a references listed at the end. See https://libguides.macewan.ca/APA
How to narrow your research topic