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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?