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Writing a Literature Review in STEM

This guide will help those in the STEM disciplines get started on writing a literature review.

Checklist for Evaluating Literature

Image result for library of congress reading room

Source: wikipedia 

1) Read & think critically

2) Make connections with related materials

3) Find out the most important landmark studies and key authors on the topic 

4) Evaluate sources 

5) Be selective : for every material that is reviewed for your paper, you should be able to justify why you include it.

6) Place your working thesis in context

Characteristics of Critical Thinkers

Habitual utilization of the intellectual traits produce a well-cultivated critical thinker who is able to:

  • Raise vital questions and problems, formulating them clearly and precisely

  • Gather and assess relevant information, using abstract ideas to interpret it effectively

  • Come to well-reasoned conclusions and solutions, testing them against relevant criteria and standards;

  • Think open-mindedly within alternative systems of thought, recognizing and assessing, as need be, their assumptions, implications, and practical consequences; and

  • Communicate effectively with others in figuring out solutions to complex problems

Source: Paul, R. & Elder, L. (2010). The Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking Concepts and Tools. Dillon Beach: Foundation for Critical Thinking Press.

Critical Reading

Critical Thinking

What to Consider to Evaluate Works

  • The author: credibility, reputation
  • A list of references or other citations 
  • The intended audience
  • The content of the source: fact, opinion, or propaganda
  • Comprehensive coverage
  • Objective language 
  • Generalization with no overstating or oversimplifying of a matter
  • Accuracy
  • Timeliness of the source 
  • Cross-checking of the given information
  • Generalization backed up with evidence 
  • Balanced arguments acknowledging other viewpoints 

Source: Purdue Univ.'s OWL :Evaluation During Reading 

While You Keep Reading....The Questions to Ask

  • How are sources similar in terms of methodologies, theories, claims, choice and interpretation of evidence, etc.?
  • How do they differ?
  • Do you observe gaps in the research or areas that require further study?
  • Do particular issues or problems stand out? Do you want (or does your prompt ask you) to compare texts in general or hone in on a specific issue or question?

Source: Duke University Writing Studio

Apps for reading e-books and documents

Research Guide to "Apps for Research"

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