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COM 303 Qualitative Research Methods

Conducting Literature Reviews

The APA definition of a literature review (from

 Survey of previously published literature on a particular topic to define and clarify a particular problem; summarize previous investigations; and to identify relations, contradictions, gaps, and inconsistencies in the literature, and suggest the next step in solving the problem.

Literature Reviews generally:

  • Provide an overview of the topic including
    • Key concepts that are being researched
    • The areas that are ripe for more research—where the gaps and inconsistencies in the literature are
    • A critical analysis of research that has been previously conducted
    • Will include primary and secondary research
  • Writing the Literature Review:
    • Be selective—you’ll review many sources, so pick the most important parts of the articles/books.

More Help on Conducting Literature Reviews

The University of Toronto also provides "A Few Tips on Conducting a Literature Review" that offers some good advice and questions to ask when conducting a literature review.

General Research Tips & Information on Annotated Bibliographies

  • Start your research early. At this level course it is normally an extensive process - starting early gives you time to search and to utilize library resources like interlibrary loan, as well as time to talk with your professor if you encounter problems.
  • Take advantage of Ask A Librarian - in person at the reference desk, via chat, by phone, or by scheduling a Research Consultation.
  • ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY - What is it     Explanation of what to include    Sample      


Ask a Librarian