In the sciences, for instance, treatments for medical problems are constantly changing according to the latest studies. However, if you are writing a review in the humanities, history, or social sciences, a survey of the history of the literature may be what is needed, because what is important is how perspectives have changed through the years or within a certain time period.
Try sorting through some other current bibliographies or literature reviews in the field to get a sense of what your discipline expects.
Literature reviews also provide a solid background for a research paper’s investigation.
Comprehensive knowledge of the literature of the field is essential to most research papers.
This means that you will not just simply list your sources and go into detail about each one of them, one at a time. As you read widely but selectively in your topic area, consider instead what themes or issues connect your sources together. Try writing a simple statement that lets the reader know what is your main organizing principle.
Here are a couple of examples: The current trend in treatment for congestive heart failure combines surgery and medicine.The narrower your topic, the easier it will be to limit the number of sources you need to read in order to get a good survey of the material.Your instructor will probably not expect you to read everything that’s out there on the topic, but you’ll make your job easier if you first limit your scope.For professionals, they are useful reports that keep them up to date with what is current in the field.For scholars, the depth and breadth of the literature review emphasizes the credibility of the writer in his or her field.The bibliography or reference section of sources you’ve already read are also excellent entry points into your own research.There are hundreds or even thousands of articles and books on most areas of study.And don’t forget to tap into your professor’s (or other professors’) knowledge in the field.Ask your professor questions such as: “If you had to read only one book from the 90’s on topic X, what would it be?If your assignment is not very specific, seek clarification from your instructor: Look for other literature reviews in your area of interest or in the discipline and read them to get a sense of the types of themes you might want to look for in your own research or ways to organize your final review.You can simply put the word “review” in your search engine along with your other topic terms to find articles of this type on the Internet or in an electronic database.