Module 3: Literature Reviews

What is a Literature Review?

The Literature Review is the first step in any research project. You cannot develop a good research question much less a hypothesis or theoretical statement about a topic without first knowing vital background information and the findings of previous researchers. Essentially, a literature review is a concise summary of published research on a topic. It synthesizes the works of others into a brief overview of all research and identifies important gaps in the research, methodological difficulties, as well as debates within a field. These gaps, difficulties, and debates become the areas of focus for current researchers.

Watch this well formulated short video on literature reviews from NC State:

Before you begin a review

Before you begin any research project you need to learn how to find and read social research articles. In this module you will engage exercises that help you locate empirical research articles using online databases. You will then learn to first summarize the research of others, then how to critique it. Over the course of the module, you will create an annotated bibliography and then weave it into a literature review for your course project.

We aren’t yet ready to delve into the textbook and the exercises. First, let’s watch another video. In this one, we will watch a psychology researcher talking about how he begins searching for research articles. His approach might surprise you…


In this module…

Now that we’ve heard how to find articles and learned about the goals of a literature review,  I would like for you to read Babbie Ch 15 and Babbie Appendix A before beginning with the exercises. I also recommend going through the Jackson Library tutorial “Finding It! A Research Skills Tutorial! (Chapters 1-6)” This tutorial will help you learn about the UNCG library resources.

Check your Course Schedule for due dates. 

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