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CIS 600--Literature Review

What is a literature review?

A literature review is both a reiterative process and an end product. This guide will focus on the literature review as an end product. As an end product, the literature review is a critical analysis of a specific body of knowledge that results in summarizing, classifying, and comparing research studies as well as theories. Elements of a literature review include an introduction, body, and conclusion. Reviewing and synthesizing theories/ideas, research methodologies, and study findings related to a research question are distinguishing characteristics of a literature review.

Why conduct a literature review?

There are numerous reasons to conduct a literature review. A selective list reflecting the rationale behind the importance of conducting a literature review include:

  • provides a summation of the body of knowledge associated with a research question
  • traces the intellectual progression of the field that identifies major points of contention or debate
  • establishes the importance of the research question within the broader context of a discipline
  • identifies gaps in the research
  • informs the interpretation of data
  • assists in the development of a thesis statement
  • demonstrates engagement with the research literature, as well as the knowledge level of the researcher
  • decreases bias

How do I conduct a literature review?

Conducting a survey and critical analysis of what has been written on a particular subject or topic provides context as well as guideposts for how to proceed in conducting your research. As you identify and compile information for your literature review, it is helpful to seek out information discussing the:

  • evolutionary history or historical backdrop
  • differing definitions and terminology
  • generally accepted concepts, principles, and theories
  • current discourse or debates within the discipline, in addition to recent and ongoing research
  • identification of "missing links," gaps, or disparities in previous research
  • formulation of a logical justification establishing the significance of the proposed research and how it fits into the existing literature

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