PHE 478/479 Program Planning and Evaluation: Literature Reviews
Introduction to Literature Reviews
What's a Literature Review?
A Literature Review...
- Provides comprehensive discussion of the scholarly research that has already been done on a topic.
- Includes some summary of important articles on a topic.
- Includes comparison: between how different authors discuss the same topic and how the topic has been handled over time.
- Synthesizes previous ideas on a topic, but also looks for gaps in the literature: what needs to be investigated further?
Literature Reviews: An Overview for Graduate Students
This excellent overview of the literature review explains what a literature review and outlines processes and best practices for doing one. It includes input from an NCSU professor on what a literature review is and what it should do. (Shared under a CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 US license, attributed to North Carolina State University Libraries).
What Should a Literature Review Do?
A Literature Review should...
- Relate directly and clearly to your thesis or research question.
- Synthesize and contextualize results, not just report them.
- Identify areas of controversy in the literature.
- Formulate questions that need further research.
Adapted from “The Literature Review: A Few Tips on Conducting It”, by Dena Taylor and Margaret Procter, University of Toronto: www.writing.utoronto.ca (file linked below)
Annual Reviews articles:
- Capture current understanding of a topic, including what is well supported and what is controversial;
- Set the work in historical context;
- Highlight the major questions that remain to be addressed and the likely course of research in upcoming years; and
- Outline the practical applications and general significance of research to society.