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Writing a Literature Review in Social Sciences

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Kyung Kim
0027K Department of Social Sciences, Arts & Humanities at Strozier Library

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Process of Literature Review

"1. Get Started, 2. Select/Refine a Topic, 3. Search for Literature, 4. Evaluate Literature, 5. Take Notes & Manage References, 6. Keep Current, 7. Prepare First Draft & Revise"


This guide was created to help FSU graduate students in Social Sciences with writing a literature review.

Whether you are writing a literature review for your term paper, research article, or thesis/dissertation, you will find some helpful tips for completing the task.

Each tab in this guide was designed to correspond to each stage of the literature review process, starting with a quick checklist for the stage. At the  "FSU Resources" tab, you will find campus resources to assist you in writing a literature review.  

If you have any question, please contact your liaison librarian, Scholars Commons of the FSU Libraries (850- 644-6061) or me (kkim4 at fsu dot edu). 

What is a Literature Review?


A Literature Review IS...

  • a selective, integrated analysis and synthesis of what has been researched and published on a particular topic
  • a process, typically starting from selecting a topic to review and concluding with writing a manuscript to report the published works on the topic
  • an iterative process: you may have to keep coming back to previous stage(s) to refine your topic, modify the search statements, and/or revise a working thesis, etc. 

A Good Literature Review IS NOT...

  • a mere summary of what you have read on a topic
  • a summary of everything that is reported on a topic
  • an annotated bibliography 

         ...BUT IS/DOES

  • a critical summary of relevant and selective literature on the topic
  • situate and focus your research in context
  • use credible and most relevant sources
  • written in clear language
  • a piece of research on its own
  • add value to the existing knowledge on the topic 


Video Tutorials

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