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Writing Your Literature Review - SOCI 352: Quantitative Methods and Analysis

This guide is intended to help you understand what a literature review is and it outlines the steps to writing your own literature review.

First things first: WHAT is a literature review?

A literature review is summary that pulls together, interprets, and logically arranges the current state of knowledge on a subject that others have been researching. It can be done as an introduction to one's own research, or it can be presented as a stand alone paper. In your case, you will be writing a stand alone literature review on a narrow topic that is of interest to you. Before we get into the nuts and bolts of how to go forward with your own literature review, have a look at this video. 
literature review video

(Video courtesy of John C. Pace Library, University of West Florida)

​Like the video above? Are you a visual learner? If so, have a look at this one. Here you'll learn how to make sure your lit review more than just a list of disjointed references and you'll learn to put your own voice into your synthesis.

HOW to approach writing your own literature review

RC students studying in a group study room on the ground floor.

It's time to get organized. The more organized your ideas are in the early stages, the more things will flow later.


Step 1. Read this handout provided by UNC's Writing Center. This is an excellent jump starter that will help you think ahead. After reading this guide, remember to return to this page to go on to step 2. 

Click here. 

Image linking to UNC writing center.

Step 2. Time to get hands-on and to do some brainstorming! No need to get on a computer quite yet! In fact, it's probably best to do this with paper and pencil.  Click on the image to see what happens when we are too anxious to start typing before doing the mind-mapping and brainstorming needed to get good results. Don't forget to to return to this page in order to go on to step 3. 
(Source: Leonard Lief Library of Lehman College.)  

Click here. 

Image linking to Youtube video.

Step 3. Now that you have your keywords on paper, you're ready to begin the detective work at your computer! Start with some of the databases you see in the column on the far right side of this page. If you need help, be sure to visit the library to ask for assistance. If you want to feel like a search pro, ask for tips on using boolean operators, truncation, wildcards, and quotations. 


professor and student meeting on the terrace

Step 4. Things are starting to come together. In fact, you're starting to find so much information that you're unsure how to keep track of it. There are many places to conveniently save and organize what you find including Google Drive, EBSCOhost, EndNote, etc.  

With all this talk about the literature review, you probably want to see what a finished one looks like, right?! Click on the image to the right to see how two co-authors collaborated to create a published literature review. Once you've seen what this final product of a lit review looks like, you might want to reinforce your understanding of the differences between a literature review and an annotated bibliograpy by clicking here.

Click on the photo to see a published and literature review

  Click here to see an example of a student's lit review at another institution . 

Image of laptop with stickers on it.

Step 5.  You will probably write multiple drafts before you are happy with your final literature review. If you are having any trouble with the writing process, be sure to speak to Dr. Rapp to ask for her feedback and suggestions. Also consider making an appointment with the Roanoke College Writing Center for assistance.



Click here. 

Image linking to RC Writing Center.

Your feedback is important to us! (Please click on the image below.)

student feedback link

WHERE to gather information: Databases Worth Your While

students hanging out in front of  the library

The landing page for Fintel Library is a great place to begin. More narrowly focused collections of electronic journals can be found below.

Please be in touch if you have any questions!