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Doing a Literature Review

  • Jeffrey W. Knopf (a1)

Students entering a graduate program often encounter a new type of assignment that differs from the papers they had to write in high school or as college undergraduates: the literature review (also known as a critical review essay). Put briefly, a literature review summarizes and evaluates a body of writings about a specific topic. The need to conduct such reviews is by no means limited to graduate students; scholarly researchers generally carry out literature reviews throughout their research careers. In a world where the Internet has broadened the range of potentially relevant sources, however, doing a literature review can pose challenges even to an experienced researcher.In drafting this overview, I have incorporated some points made by Paul Pitman in a lecture delivered to students at the Naval Postgraduate School. I have also incorporated some suggestions contained in a handout prepared by John Odell for students in the School of International Relations at the University of Southern California.

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Cresswell, John W. 2003. Research Design: Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Methods Approaches, 2nd ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.
Fink, Arlene. 2005. Conducting Research Literature Reviews: From the Internet to Paper, 2nd ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.
Galvan, Jose L. 2005. Writing Literature Reviews, 3rd ed. Glendale, CA: Pyrczak Publishing.
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McKeown, Timothy J. 1999. “Case Studies and the Statistical Worldview.” International Organization 53: 16190.
Pan, M. Ling. 2004. Preparing Literature Reviews, 2nd ed. Glendale, CA: Pyrczak Publishing.
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Wonnacott, Ronald J., and Thomas H. Wonnacott. 1985. Introductory Statistics, 4th ed. New York: John Wiley & Sons.
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PS: Political Science & Politics
  • ISSN: 1049-0965
  • EISSN: 1537-5935
  • URL: /core/journals/ps-political-science-and-politics
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