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POSC 325: Political Analysis: Literature Review Tips

The Literature Review

The literature review is meant to serve as preliminary research, conducted before you write a research paper. You conduct this review of the literature after you develop a topic that interests you, and before you solidify your position. It is both a summary and a general timeline of research done on the subject you're about to discuss in detail. Essentially, you're trying to:

  • Determine what's already been written on a topic
  • Evaluate what's already been written on a topic
  • Identify gaps that haven't been heavily researched
  • Join into the conversation that's already been started by other scholars

When Preparing to Write:

When Preparing to Write:

  • Identify the most significant studies and scholars concerning your topic or research question. Read the works carefully and consistently and take notes
  • State the central research questions investigated by scholars, the key concepts, and hypotheses advanced, and their methodological strengths and weaknesses
  • Identify significant trends or patterns in the results of the studies
  • Identify any gaps you may find in the literature - questions left unexplored, concepts or theories misused, or methodological errors made
  • Think about how the studies all fit together
  • Summarize the state of the field for this research topic

When Writing:

  • Describe the topic or problem area. Note why the topic is important and why it is worth studying
  • Identify the research question you are investigating or the hypothesis you are testing
  • Discuss how the previous work (that is, its findings, methods, trends, and theories) sets the stage for your own research
  • Discuss how your research effort is similar to or differs from previous ones
  • Discuss what you plan to do in your research paper
  • Write the literature review in an essay format with proper citations and a bibliography

Sections to Include in Your Literature Review:

  • Introduction
  • Literature Review
  • Model and Hypothesis
  • Research Design
  • Analysis
  • Conclusion

Literature Review Source Template

Literature Review Example [Purdue Owl]

Checklist Companion to Text