Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

SOCIOL 333: Quantitative Analysis of Sociological Data: Getting Started

What is a Literature Review?

A literature review is a “critical analysis of a segment of a published body of knowledge through summary, classification, and comparison of prior research studies, reviews of literature, and theoretical articles” (University of Wisconsin Writing Center).

Do not confuse a literature review with an annotated bibliography.

Information for this page is taken from the Thompson Writing Program.

Format

  • The introduction should explain why you are writing the review (“so what/who cares?”) and make some central claims about the current state of the literature (e.g. trends, debates, gaps, etc.).
  • Organize the body of the paper by common denominators among sources, such as methodologies, conclusions, philosophical approaches, or possibly chronology (assuming topical subsections)
  • The conclusion should summarize significant contributions to the field, situate the reviewed literature in the larger context of the discipline, point out flaws or gaps in the research, and/or suggest future areas of study.

Lit Review Process

Literature Review Tutorial

Your Librarian

Linda Daniel's picture
Linda Daniel
Contact:
Duke University Libraries
233 Perkins Library
Email:: linda.daniel@duke.edu
Phone: 919-660-5927

Questions to Ask

  • How are sources similar in terms of methodologies, philosophies, claims, choice and interpretation of evidence, reliability, etc.?
  • How do they differ?
  • Do you observe gaps in the research or areas that require further study?
  • Do particular issues or problems stand out?
  • Do you want to compare texts in general or hone in on a specific issue or question?