SOC 3500: Methods in Social Research

Understanding the Literature Review

Why Do a Literature Review?

Think of academic research as a conversation among scholars. There is already an ongoing dialogue or conversation about your topic. In order to contribute to that conversation, you must first catch up with what's already been said by engaging with the known literature and experts in the field.

Research is a Conversation, by Anna Eisen and Kali Stoehr (2 minutes)

What is a Literature Review?

The purpose of the literature review is to:

  • Set the background on what has been researched on a topic.
  • Show why a topic is significant to a subject area.
  • Discover relationships between ideas.
  • Identify major themes & concepts.
  • Identify critical gaps & points of disagreement.
  • Help the researcher turn a network of articles into a coherent view of the literature.

Literature Review: An Overview for Graduate Students, by North Caroline State University Libraries (10 minutes)