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Writing a Literature Review in the Arts and Humanities

Humanities Librarian

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Adam Beauchamp
Trained as a historian of Latin America, the Atlantic world, and Early America with particular interests in the United States Gulf Coast, archives, and the power to narrate the past. Committed educator who embraces critical pedagogy. Working for ethical and responsible use of technologies in libraries.
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Process of Literature Review

Step-by-step flowchart of literature review process


This guide was created to help FSU graduate students in the arts and humanities 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. 

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 


Guide Authors

This guide was authored by Abby Scheel in 2017.
Adam Beauchamp maintains the guide and is the point of contact for inquiries.

Except where otherwise noted, the content in this guide is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

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