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Chemistry & Biochemistry

The chemistry research guide can guide you in finding relevant resources for your research.


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Tiffanie Ford-Baxter
Library North 2020A

What is a literature review?

A literature review is an explanation of what has been published on a subject. Occasionally you will be asked to write one as a separate assignment (sometimes in the form of an annotated bibliography), but more often it is part of the introduction to a research report, essay, thesis, or dissertation.

It's not just a summary of sources. You should provide a new interpretation of old material. It should:

  • Connect your references
  • Synthesize what you've read
  • Evaluate your resources.

A literature review should do these things:

  • Be organized around and related directly to the thesis or research question you are developing
  • Synthesize results into a summary of what is and is not known
  • Identify areas of controversy in the literature
  • Formulate questions that need further research

Why write a Literature Review?

  • To trace the progression of a field
  • To evaluate your sources. Does one article have different conclusions or results from your other resources?
  • To develop a better understanding of the field. It can be very helpful if you want to do your own research in the field.
  • To give a new interpretation to previous research.
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