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Organizing a Literature Review

Assess your literature review

Pause to evaluate your literature review. If you are pausing mid-way, adjust your literature review practices as needed.

  • 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 assignment and topic?
  • What did I do to ensure the information I gathered is credible and trustworthy?
  • Did I allow enough time to conduct a thorough literature review?
  • Have I critically analyzed the sources I cite?  Instead of just listing and summarizing items, do I assess them, discussing their strengths and weaknesses?
  • Have I minimized my biases and kept an open mind while reading the literature? Have I cited and discussed studies contrary to my perspective?
  • Will the reader find my literature review relevant, appropriate, and useful?
  • Was I selective with my sources? Did I focus on key (seminal) literature related to my topic? Long lists of references to support my topic is an indicator I was not selective.
  • Have I considered the currency of the literature? Older studies may be valuable for adding support to the topic, but be sure and site sources from recent years. 

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

Also, Literature Review Overview, from Indiana University, provides examples for assessing sources and writing your literature review. 

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