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EEL 5934: ECE Technical Writing: Lit reviews

Review Articles

A review article is a secondary (not primary) report of research. Its goal is to synthesize the research of others into a summary of:

  • what is confirmed or still unknown
  • areas of controversy, where results differ in their conclusions
  • identified areas for further research

Review articles may serve as:

  • An overview of research in a field in one article
  • A guide to the best and highest impact articles on a topic
  • An identification of current research in a field

Review articles: examples

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More background

Literature Reviews

What is a literature review?

A literature review surveys all the available literature on a topic, from books, journal articles, conference proceedings, and other sources, to identify items that are relevant to the current work. The lit review establishes credibility by demonstrating that the authors are aware of previous work in the field.

A typical literature review accomplishes many of the following:

  • Discusses and analyses previously published research
  • Places the current work in the context of earlier related research>
  • Summarizes the findings from its sources
  • Interprets and combines interpretations of research results
  • Traces intellectual progression of research in the field
  • Distinguishes what has been done from what needs to be done
  • Identifies relationships between ideas and practices
  • Establishes the context of the topic
  • Rationalizes the significance of the problem
  • Defines subject vocabulary
  • Relates ideas and theory to applications
  • Identifies main methodologies and research techniques that have been used

Many articles do not label the section as a lityerature review.  Some lit reviews are included in the Introduction or Background section or are labeled as "works cited" or other variations.  When in doubt. look for the section that has the densest concentration of footnotes or endnotes.

Assess your literature review

  • How good was my information seeking? Has my search been wide enough to ensure I've found all the relevant material? Has it been narrow enough to exclude irrelevant material? Is the number of sources I've used appropriate for the length of my paper?
  • Have I critically analysed the sources I cite?  Instead of just listing and summarizing items, do I assess them, discussing their strengths and weaknesses?
  • Have I cited and discussed studies contrary to my perspective?
  • Will the reader find my literature review relevant, appropriate, and useful?

from The Literature Review: A Few Tips On Conducting It from the University of Toronto

Literature reviews: examples

The Literature Review sections in these articles serve as good examples.  Connect through the VPN if off campus.

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