Read and evaluate the information gathered, take notes and make connections.
At this point, you should have a list of "the literature" related to your research topic. The next step is to analyze the literature before you start writing your literature review.
A typical research article in the social sciences has the following sections:
As you scan through your articles, you'll see categories or topics emerge. You might start grouping your literature into categories. Most research articles in the social sciences group literature ...
Get organized before doing a deep dive into your articles. Different people have different styles of organizing their work and workspace--do what works for you.
Citation management software, such as Zotero and EndNote, can be very helpful in organizing your research. They store the citations of the articles you send to them, as well as any notes you might have added.
EndNote collects, organizes, and formats your citations. You can import citations directly from databases and format your citations in a number of different citation styles, including APA. Please visit our Library Guide on Getting Started with EndNote for more information.
Now it is time to read through your articles in detail. As you read, summarize the main points of the article in your own words. This will help you in writing the actual literature review. You should use a consistent format as you take notes about each article.
1. Cite your source! It's never too early to put your citation into APA format. The Cornette Library has a library guide with helpful information on the APA citation style. You can also check out the How do I cite in APA? FAQ for specific examples.
2. What is the main point of the article? What is the research hypothesis or question?
3. What is the research methodology used? Is it appropriate for the research?
4. What did the research find or prove? Did the research find or prove the authors' hypothesis?
5. What is notable about the article? Is it the landmark article in a particular area of research? Does it replicate research successfully?
6. Note any other details you think are important.
Look for definitions of key terms in each article. Authors may define the same term differently, and thus come to different conclusions.
Look for methodological strengths and weaknesses, and make note of those. Know the difference between assertions and findings.
What major trends or patterns do you see in the results of the research articles you've reviewed?
What gaps do you see in the literature? Gaps often exist because research in a particular area could be difficult to conduct for various reasons. The gaps need to be noted in your literature review, along with a discussion of why a gap might exist.
Do you see any relationships among the research studies you've been reading? For example, a landmark article almost always spawns several follow-up articles. The follow-up articles might explore new approaches to the topic, or use a different research methodology or group of subjects.
How does each article relate to your research topic? If an article is not related to your research topic, it does not belong in your literature review.
How current is your list of articles? It should include the most recent research on your topic that you can find. Your list of articles should also cover your research topic as completely as necessary.