Literature Reviews - Graduate Writing Center

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Literature Reviews


The literature review is the part of your paper or thesis in which you show that you understand the academic conversation you are joining. In the literature review, you discuss the scholarly work that precedes yours, that makes your work possible, or perhaps makes your work necessary.

Imagine this scenario: you walk into a large conference room filled with people discussing different issues, all relevant to your research topic. There are two empty chairs at a large table, and you sit in one and listen attentively; after a while, someone joins you, taking the other empty chair. They lean over and, in a low voice, ask you what everyone is talking about.

You whisper back: “I’m about to speak up and join the discussion, but I’ll explain some key parts of the conversation so far that you can understand what I’m about to say.” You summarize the key debates and positions. You identify the crucial contributions that others have made, particularly those that you’re going to build on or use in your work. You also point out the spots where there is debate, and the gaps – the issues that people should be talking about but aren’t.

There are multiple waves and stages to your research as you work on a thesis-length project. You might find that even after you’ve done a substantial amount of research, you still worry that you haven’t done enough or that you haven’t found the right sources. Librarians can help you find more sources or a richer selection of materials to work with. Critically, your advisor can often give you a sense of whether your research is adequately thorough. Your advisor can often help you vet the sources that you have for scholarly reputation and importance in your field, and point you in the direction of must-reads.

 

Literature Reviews Links

GWC - all topics list heading

All-Topics Index


The following index makes searching for a specific topic easier and links to the appropriate place in the sequenced material. We think we have most of them, but please email us at writingcenter@nps.edu if we are missing something!

A-Z content menu

A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z

A

abbreviations

abstracts

academic writing

acronyms

active voice

apostrophes

argument

article usage

assignments, understanding them

audience

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B

body paragraphs

brackets, square

brainstorming

building better sentences tips

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C

capitalization

citations

citation software

citation styles

clauses

clarity

clustering

coaching sessions, about

colons

comma splices

commas, FANBOYS

commas, introductory

commas, list

commas, nonessential elements

commas, Oxford

commonly confused words 

compare-and-contrast papers 

concision

conclusions

conjunctive adverbs

coordinating conjunctions

copyright and fair use

critical thinking  

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D

dangling modifiers

dashes

dependent clauses

dependent marker words

display equations

double submission of coursework

drafting

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E

editing your own work

editing: outside editors

exclamation points

executive summary

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F

FANBOYS

FAQs

first person, use of in academic writing

footnotes

fragments

free-writing

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G

gerunds

grammar

group writing

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H

homophones

hyphens

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I

ibid.

incomplete sentences

independent clauses

introductions

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J

Joining the Academic Conversation

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L

LaTeX

library liaisons

lists, syntax of

literature reviews 

logic and analysis 

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M

mathematics

memos

methodologies

misplaced modifiers

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N

nominalizations

note-taking

noun clusters

numbers

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O

organization

outlining

Oxford comma

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P

paragraph development 

parallelism

paraphrasing

parentheses

parts of speech

passive voice

periods

persuasion

phrases vs. clauses

plagiarism, how to avoid through citations

plain language

polishing

prepositional phrases 

prepositions

pronouns

publishing

punctuation

purpose of research

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Q

questions

quotation marks 

quoting

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R

reading with intent

redundancies                                                                

reference software

reflection papers 

research

research questions

reusing papers

reverse outlining

revision

roadmaps                                            

run-on sentences 

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S

self-citing

semicolons

sentence fragments

serial comma

significance

so what?

sources, engaging with / critiquing

sources, evaluating the reliability of

sources, citing

spelling

standard essay structure

STEM / technical writing 

style

subject–verb agreement

subjects, grammatical

subordinating conjunctions

summarizing

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T

technical writing

that vs. which

thesis writing

thesis advisors

thesis process overview

thesis process tips

thesis proposals – common elements                                                     

thesis statements

this, that, these, those

tone, professional

topic sentences 

transitions

types of papers

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U

United States or U.S.?

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V

verbs and verb tense

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W

which vs. that

Why write?

writer’s block 

writing process

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Z

Zotero

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