Once you've gathered sources, you want to assess how your sources relate to one another and group sources by theme, topic, or methodology. See the handouts below for examples of literature reviews and advice on the process of writing them.
A successful literature review should have three parts that break down in the following way:
1. Defines and identifies the topic and establishes the reason for the literature review.
2. Points to general trends in what has been published about the topic.
3. Explains the criteria used in analyzing and comparing articles.
B. BODY OF THE REVIEW
1. Groups articles into thematic clusters, or subtopics. Clusters may be grouped together chronologically, thematically, or methodologically (see below for more on this).
2. Proceeds in a logical order from cluster to cluster.
3. Emphasizes the main findings or arguments of the articles in the student’s own words. Keeps quotations from sources to an absolute minimum.
1. Summarizes the major themes that emerged in the review and identifies areas of controversy in the literature.
2. Pinpoints strengths and weaknesses among the articles (innovative methods used, gaps in research, problems with theoretical frameworks, etc.).
3. Concludes by formulating questions that need further research within the topic, and provides some insight into the relationship between that topic and the larger field of study or discipline.