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Academic Advising Graduate Certificate

This guide was created to support students seeking the Academic Advising Graduate Certificate. This guide was originally created by Dana Hettich.

What is a literature review?

When we (in academic circles) refer to literature, we are referring to research or scholarship. A literature review collects research or scholarship on a particular subject and then enters the conversation those sources are having about that subject. We sometimes refer to this as synthesis.

Synthesis (n.) - the combining of two or more things to produce something new, Lumen Learning

Read more about synthesis at the Purdue OWL here.

Parts of a Lit Review

A lit review typically begins with a basic introduction of your topic, including some of the following:

  • an explanation of your topic and thesis
  • a preview of key topics or scholarship
  • if pertinent to discussion, information about how you found and analyzed the sources

The body of your lit review should typically accomplish the following tasks:

  • summarize the main points of your sources
  • synthesize the ideas in these sources (i.e., show where their ideas are in conversation with one another)
  • analyze and interpret the sources through the lens of your own topic and thesis
  • evaluate the strengths and weaknesses in the sources

The body paragraphs should be well-structured in whichever organization plan suits your topic: chronological, thematic, methodological, or theoretical.

The conclusion of your lit review should do two things:

  • Provide a summary of central discoveries or findings in the scholarship
  • Connect back to your own research question

The Lit Review Process