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ENGL 499: Senior Project

This guide describes databases, library services, and other resources for senior researchers in English. The library is here to support you in all your research endeavors. Librarians are happy to answer any questions or provide additional help.

Definition of a literature review

A literature review is a comprehensive summary of previous research on a topic. The literature review surveys scholarly articles, books, and other sources relevant to a particular area of research. The review should enumerate, describe, summarize, objectively evaluate and clarify this previous research.  It should give a theoretical base for the research and help you (the author) determine the nature of your research.  The literature review acknowledges the work of previous researchers, and in so doing, assures the reader that your work has been well conceived.  It is assumed that by mentioning a previous work in the field of study, that the author has read, evaluated, and assimilated that work into the work at hand.

A literature review creates a "landscape" for the reader, giving her or him a full understanding of the developments in the field.  This landscape informs the reader that the author has indeed assimilated all (or the vast majority of) previous, significant works in the field into her or his research. 

Review articles. Sometimes categorized as a literature review in a database, a review article is a survey of articles on a topic with findings summarized. This provides the reader with the current state of research in a field or research area.

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