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Literature Reviews for Media, Communication and Information: What is a "Literature Review"?

A guide to getting started with literature reviews in media, communication and information (CMCI).

This Guide

This guide is intended to assist you in writing the literature review section of a scholarly article or research paper.

The tabs offer a suggested series of steps that will help you research, organize, and write your review.

It is important to know that research is a messy process. You may find yourself repeating steps, doing them out of order, or even adjusting your topic or the focus of your review. This is a normal part of scholarly writing.

If you need help, please contact your librarian.

What is a "Literature Review"?

A literature review provides a summary of the previously published academic work on a topic. The literature review should help "make the case" for why someone is writing their paper or conducting their research. A literature review can be a section of a larger paper or it can be the focus of an entire paper.

Goals of a Literature Review:

  1. to provide an overview of the scholarly literature on a chosen topic, including the major theories, issues, works, and debates on the topic
  2. to synthesize the information in the literature into an organized summary
  3. to critique the information and current knowledge of a topic
  4. to identify aspects of the topic that need further investigation

Plagiarism and Citing

If you don't cite, you might plagiarize someone's ideas. Cite to:

  • Give credit the author(s) of the works that you used to write your paper.
  • Show that you know your topic well and have read and thought about what others have already said.
  • Show your readers where to find the original sources of the information you present so they can read them fully.

When to cite? What to cite?

  • Cite other people's words, ideas and other intellectual property that you use in your papers or that influence your ideas, including things such as books, articles, reports, data/statistics, speeches, academic articles, works of art, songs.
  • Cite direct quotes, facts or statistics AND when you summarize or paraphrase others' ideas.

Helpful Sites on Literature Reviews

Much of the information in this guide and more information can be found on the websites listed on the Helpful Sites tab.

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