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Comprehensive Literature Review

Borrowed from Tulane University, Jennifer Corbin's guide for Forensics PhD students

Elements of a Literature Review

  1. An overview of the subject, issue or theory under consideration, along with the objectives of the literature review
  2. Division of sources under review into categories (e.g. those in support of a particular position, those against, and those offering alternative theses entirely)
  3. Explanation of how each source is similar to and how it varies from the others
  4. Conclusions as to which sources are best considered in their argument, are most convincing of their opinions, and make the greatest contribution to the understanding and development of their area of research

Considerations for Assessing Each Source

  • Provenance—What are the author's credentials? Are the author's arguments supported by evidence (e.g. primary historical material, case studies, narratives, statistics, recent scientific findings)?

  • Objectivity—Is the author's perspective even-handed or prejudicial? Is contrary data considered or is certain pertinent information ignored to prove the author's point?

  • Persuasiveness—Which of the author's theses are most/least convincing?

  • Value—Are the author's arguments and conclusions convincing? Does the work ultimately contribute in any significant way to an understanding of the subject?

How to Read a Scholarly Article

  1. Read the abstract - What is the claim
  2. Examine the visuals - What was the study method
  3. Read the conclusion - How was the research question answered?
  4. If the paper is appropriate for your research, then read the whole paper with attention to generating questions and answering the questions in the Considerations for Assessing Each Source box.

Tips for Writing Literature Reviews

These guides provide an overview of the literature review: the purpose of a literatyre review, what to include in one and how to organize one.