welcome to this tutorial for graduate studentson writing a literature review, brought to you by the allyn & betty taylor library. so youâ€™re a graduate student with your thesisor dissertation topic, and you need to get started on your literature review. butâ€¦what exactly is a literature review? the literature review is often a chapter inyour thesis or dissertation where you will describe and cite what research has alreadybeen done related to your topic, how this research has helped inform your own topic,and how your topic fits into the bigger picture of research in your discipline. sometimesit will be broken up into several smaller sections in different chapters. itâ€™s usuallydone as you get started with your own research,
since it will help you understand the backgroundof your topic. how can you learn what research has alreadybeen done on your topic? your advisor should be able to point you to some key articlesor authors in the field, and you can use library resources to find articles and other informationon your topic. each of those publications will have reference lists that will lead youto other relevant articles. scopus and web of science will help you find out who hascited the articles youâ€™re reading in order to build on their research. to help you navigateyour way through all of this information, be sure to get in touch with your subjectlibrarian. he or she would be happy to help you out!
during this information-gathering process,you will probably end up with a big pile of growing papers, or thumb drives or accountsfilling up with articles. â€œreading and understanding an article isnâ€™talways intuitive, and it certainly takes time. one tip i often share with students, is tostart with the abstract, introduction and discussion sections. after youâ€™ve read these,you should be able to identify the significance of the research and how it relates to yourown project. this will help you decide which articles to take a closer look at. to keeporganized, many students print out the articles and make notes on them, or keep their noteson a computer.â€ another method to consider that works wellfor a lot of students is to keep whatâ€™s
called a â€˜synthesis matrix.â€™ this simpletable can be created in excel or word or any similar software, with one column for eacharticle you read. as youâ€™re reading your first article, start to note some of the keypoints or themes youâ€™re finding, including the page number, so you can easily cite itlater on. when you move on to the second article, continue to note how each new article addressesthese main points or themes. when youâ€™re done, youâ€™ll have a helpful table that willkeep you organized, and you can write your literature review according to the themesyouâ€™ve identified. â€œover the years, i have advised many graduatestudents and helped them with their literature reviews. for a successful review, you needto show how the literature is related to your
actual project. the review should includea critical analysis of approaches used by other researchers. you should make connectionsbetween articles you have read; this will help you organize your thoughts and research.grouping these connections together by theme will also help to avoid a review that justsummarizes each article individually. and remember that citations are still needed tosupport the connecting ideas.â€œ if youâ€™d like to see a sample literaturereview for a thesis or dissertation, ask your advisor or colleagues, or use one of the libraryâ€™stheses databases to find examples from western and other universities. the library also hasprint copies that you can sign out. thanks for watching! visit our website formore tutorials on conducting a literature
review, or contact your subject librarianfor more information.