Answered By: APUS Librarians
Last Updated: Apr 21, 2017     Views: 1237

Remember that the purpose of a literature review is to:

  • demonstrate that you are familiar with the existing research on your topic.
  • provide a context for your own investigation by showing how it fits in with the existing research.

Your first step will be to thoroughly research your topic.  You need to try to find all of the relevant scholarly articles and books that you can.   

Next, you'll carefully read and take notes from the scholarly sources that you've found.  Reading research articles can be daunting at first;  click here for power-reading tips.   In particular, be on the lookout for:

  • Themes or trends in the various authors' results or interpretation
  • Controversies surrounding your topic
  • Strengths and weaknesses in the studies that you read
  • Aspects of the topic that are not well studied, and merit further research

Now you will be ready to start writing. 

  • The Graduate Writing section of Writing@APUS provides tips on writing a literature review.   Click here to learn how to find the Graduate Writing page (undergraduates are welcome to use it, too). 
  • Another helpful resource is the SAGE Project Planner which includes a section on creating a literature review. For access info, see this page on the Research Methods Information guide.

Don't forget that you'll need to correctly cite your sources.   Your style guide and/or a good citation manager can help you with this part. 


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