Academic Writing (Purdue University Writing Labs) - Develop and refine the arguments in your writing, develop strong thesis statements, write essays: argumentative essays, expository essays, descriptive essays, and narrative essays.
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You may be asked to prepare a literature review as an assignment, but more likely you are going to be expected to include a literature review as part of the introduction to your research paper. Properly done, a literature review is more than an annotated bibliography or summary of research articles. Your literature review should inform your readers of significant past research in your specialized topic, but also highlight critical issues, areas where research is lacking, or novel applications that your research is going to explore.
For some helpful tips on how to get started doing a literature review, see the University of Toronto Library's The Literature Review: A Few Tips on Conducting it.
Some general rules:
A good review is critical, but critical does not necessarily mean negative. Minor errors, factual or typographical, can be pointed out but should not be dwelt on unless you feel they compromise the validity of the work as a whole.
This is a suggested format for your review based on common practice, but you should always check your instructor's specific instructions!
Your review should begin with the book's citation.
Introduction: include the author's qualifications and viewpoint, the purpose of the book and the theme or central argument of your review.
Critical summary: include the thesis of the book and a concise summary of its contents, indicating how the thesis is developed (use examples.) What evidence does the author use to support his/her thesis?
Critique: include your observations about the book, pointing out its strengths and weaknesses, as well as how it fits into the wider literature. How well did the author achieve the book's objectives? Discuss any assumptions or evident omissions in the book, the clarity and coherence of the author's argument, and the strength or the value of the evidence raised. Describe and critique the organization of the book, the author's writing style (word choice, paragraph structure, wit, readability, length etc.) and use of aids (photographs, charts, tables, figures, etc.) Discuss how this book contributes to your understanding of the subject. Do you think the author's thesis is valid? Why or why not?
Conclusion: tie together issues raised in your review and provide a concise comment on the book. Would you recommend the book to others?
Proofread! Ensure that your review is grammatically and stylistically correct and that your arguments flow logically.