The purpose of a literature review is to convey to the reader what knowledge and ideas have been established on a topic. You must be certain that your proposed research is new, and a literature review will help you determine that.

Reasons for doing a literature review before starting a research project include:

• To summarize and assess the state of existing knowledge on your topic
• To develop a more nuanced understanding of your topic
• To raise questions for further research
• To identify one specific and significant research question that identifies a gap in the current state of knowledge or analysis about your topic

How Do I Structure a Literature Review:

Your literature review should be approximately 5-6 pages long and should include the following components:

• Define or identify the general topic. 
• Point out overall trends in what has been published about the topic. 
• Establish your reason for reviewing the literature; explain the criteria to be used in analyzing and comparing literature and the organization of the review; and state why certain literature is or is not included.

• Group literature according to common denominators such as qualitative versus quantitative approaches, conclusions of authors, specific purpose or objective, chronology, etc. 
• Summarize articles with as much or as little detail as each merits according to its comparative importance in the literature. 

• Summarize major contributions of significant studies and articles to the body of knowledge under review, maintaining the focus established in the introduction. 
• Evaluate the current "state of the art" for the body of knowledge reviewed. 
• Conclude by providing some insight into the relationship between the central topic of the literature review and a larger area of study.

• At least 5 scholarly articles or books on your topic.

Below are addional websites that discuss how to write a literature review:

Resource 1

Resource 2

Resource 3

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McKinnon Center for Global Affairs, Johnson 102