The organization of a literature review may vary to suit your goals and to reach the intended audience, but in any event it should be conceptual.
the relationship between the central topic of the literature review and a larger area of study such as a discipline, profession and/or ongoing contemporary social problem?
(For example, can I draw lessons for public policy from my research problem whether nonviolent student movements are a factor in regime change?
A literature review is an account of what has been published on a topic by accredited scholars and researchers.
Occasionally you will be asked to write one as a separate assignment (sometimes in the form of an annotated bibliography—see the bottom of the next page), but more often it is part of the introduction to an essay, research report, or thesis.
For example, if you want to take a case study approach to examining nonviolent resistance in the Middle East, your guiding organizational concept may be the topic of nonviolent resistance generally or more specifically, alternatives to violence in the Middle East. Do I just list and summarize authors and articles, or do I assess them?
You could also use the sources to explore definitions (i.e., how do various authors define nonviolence) or to consider specific questions (i.e., under what conditions does strategic nonviolence succeed? Do I discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the cited material?It might give a new interpretation of old material or combine new with old interpretations.Or it might trace the intellectual progression of the field, including the major debates.Do I find and discuss controversies in the literature?Do I provide the reader with strong "umbrella" sentences at beginnings of paragraphs, "signposts throughout, and brief "so what" summary sentences at intermediate points in the review to aid in understanding comparisons and analyses?Use an overall introduction and conclusion to state the scope of your coverage and to formulate the question, problem, or concept your chosen material illuminates.Usually you will have the option of grouping items into sections—this helps you indicate comparisons and relationships.It is usually presented as a distinct section of a graduate thesis or dissertation.It may support or challenge an argument you would like to make, provide definitions and context for your work, and suggest data.We're available to answer your questions Monday - Friday, 9 am - 5 pm Email: Use our Ask Us form Call: 617.495.3421 Text: 617.858.6079 Drop in: Main Desk, Gutman Library, 2nd Floor Research Appointment: Schedule a Gutman Research Appointment Special thanks to the students and faculty of the Harvard Graduate School of Education; the staffs of the Gutman Library Research Services and of the Learning Technologies Center; and our colleagues at NC State Libraries.Unless an exception applies, certain textual content on this web page is subject to a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.