Goals of Your Literature Review

As a scholar, you must know what has been written and studied in your field. They must be familiar with theories and arguments–as well as empirical evidence–that appear in the scholarship of the field.

Your literature review will demonstrate your familiarity with the scholarly, peer-reviewed literature in your field/area of interest based on current psychometric assessments.

Guidelines for Your Literature Review

1) The literature review will be about 6 to 8 pages in length, at minimum.

2) You need to include a brief introduction, body of the literature review, a conclusion and description of your research question and hypothesis.

3) You need at least 5 peer-reviewed works

4) Choosing works:

1. Your literature review must include substantial research to provide evidence of both the breadth and the depth of the research on your topic or, at least, one important angle of it.

2. You need to consider research that is relevant to your field, but you also consider research in other fields.

Organizing/Arranging Your Literature Review

As you uncover the literature (i.e., secondary writing) on your topic, you should determine how the various pieces relate to each other. Your ability to do so will demonstrate your understanding of the evolution of literature in your area of interest.

You might determine that the literature makes sense when divided by time period, by methodology, by sources, by discipline, by research focus, or support/contradiction of your hypothesis. This list is not exhaustive.

Consider the following: Are there missing elements in the literature? For example, have here been recent studies on the topic? Are there areas of the topic that have been not been studied? Do interpretations change at some point? Does the major methodology being used change, or has a certain approach not been considered? Is there empirical evidence to support the area of research to date?

Contents of a Literature Review

Your literature review is a research paper with three main components:

1. A brief discussion of the issue (the person/population, event, issue). [While this section should be brief, it needs to set up the hypothesis/research question and literature that follow. Note that the hypothesis/research question informs the methodology and guides the readers through the study]

2. Your general thesis about the literature

3. A clear argument, using the works on topic as evidence, i.e., you discuss the sources in relation to your hypothesis/research question, not as a separate topic. Avoid writing the literature as an opinion piece. Try to keep the focus as objective as possible, while still relating it to the focus of the research project.

**These components must be presented in essay form with an introduction, body, and conclusion. Here is a link to a helpful description of the components of a literature review (Links to an external site.): (Links to an external site.)


Each source you discuss in your paper must be cited and referenced correctly. Providing author and title and date in the paper is not sufficient. Use correct APA style. If you use direct quotes, include quotation marks and the page number from where the quote was found in your citation.

Conclusion of a Literature Review

Your conclusion should not only reiterate your argument (thesis), but also discuss questions that remain unanswered by the literature. What has been accomplished in previous research? What has not been studied? What debates need to be settled?


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