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Introduction to Literature Reviews

Before You Write

Find out what formatting style is used in your area for writing papers and creating bibliographies.

For instance, the social sciences usually uses the American Psychological Association style, but the humanities typically uses either MLA (Modern Language Association), Chicago, or Turabian.

You can also look at our Writing and Citing page to see other citation and style guides.

Other citation tools available are Zotero and Endnote. Both of these programs format and manage citations, helping you organize your research. The library offers classes on them; look at the Zotero and Endnote guides for more information.

Tips and Tricks to Writing a Literature Review

Strategies for Writing

  • Find a focus for your literature review
  • Construct a working thesis statement
  • Consider how you want to organize it
    • chronological
    • thematic
    • methodological

For more details on these stategies check out:

One of the most important aspects of a literature review is to summarize and synthesize, but you may wonder what that means or what that looks like.  The image below outlines a themed-based literature review that shows how your research should interact.

Themed-Based Literature Review

Image from:
Cisco, J. (2014). Teaching the Literature Review: A Practical Approach for College Instructors. Teaching & Learning Inquiry,  2 (2), 41-57.

More Help

Tutors are available to assist undergraduates with writing literature reviews.  Check the Writing Center for hours and availability.  This center also offers writing assistance to graduate students, but on a more limited basis.