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Comm 491 and 451: Senior Thesis

Suggested resources for students writing theses in communication and media. These are starting points for doing research related to mass media, journalism, social media, the news media, television, film, and more.

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What is a Literature Review?

"A literature review is an evaluative report of information found in the literature related to your selected area of study.  The review should describe, summarise, evaluate and clarify this literature.  It should give a theoretical base for the research and help you (the author) determine the nature of your research. Works which are irrelevant should be discarded and those which are peripheral should be looked at critically.

A literature review is more than the search for information, and goes beyond being a descriptive annotated bibliography. All works included in the review must be read, evaluated and analysed (which you would do for an annotated bibliography), but relationships between the literature must also be identified and articulated, in relation to your field of research." ( http://libguides.library.cqu.edu.au/litreview ).

More about the literature review

What is a Literature Review?

A literature review surveys scholarly articles, books, dissertations, conference proceedings and other resources which are relevant to a particular issue, area of research, or theory and provides context for a dissertation by identifying past research. Research tells a story and the existing literature helps us identify where we are in the story currently. It is up to those writing a dissertation to continue that story with new research and new perspectives but they must first be familiar with the story before they can move forward. 

Purpose of a Literature Review

  • Identifies gaps in current knowledge
  • Helps you to avoid reinventing the wheel by discovering the research already conducted on a topic
  • Sets the background on what has been explored on a topic so far
  • Increases your breadth of knowledge in your area of research
  • Helps you identify seminal works in your area
  • Allows you to provide the intellectual context for your work and position your research with other, related research
  • Provides you with opposing viewpoints
  • Helps you to discover research methods which may be applicable to your work

Greenfield, T. (2002). Research methods for postgraduates. 2nd ed. London: Arnold.

Literature Review Video - by North Carolina State University Libraries

Tutorials and Examples

Literature Review guide from UNC Chapel Hill Writing Center

Valuable guidance on writing a literature review. Includes what is a literature review, strategies for writing it, and suggestions on how to organize the body of the review.

Literature Review Tutorial from American Univ Library

Includes checklists, basic understanding of lit review, and an example of a lit review.

The Lit Review:  A Few Tips on Conducting It (from Univ of Toronto)

More Resources on Writing a Lit Review

Books

A selection of just some of the many books available on writing literature reviews. Use Catalog Search to find more.

How to Conduct an Effective Literature Review (2018) 17 min video from Dr. Claire White, faculty at Cal State Northridge

Academic Writing for Graduate Students: Essential Tasks and Skills (2004) by John M. Swales and Christine B. Feak

Telling a Research Story: Writing a Literature Review (2009) by John M. Swales and Christine B. Feak

Doing a Literature Review: Releasing the Social Science Research Imagination (1998) by Chris Hart

Synthesizing research : a guide for literature reviews (1998) by Harris Cooper

Writing Literature Reviews: A Guide for Students of the Social and Behavioral Sciences (1999) by Jose L. Galvan

The Craft of Research (2008) by Wayne C. Booth, Colomb, Williams - in print and online