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University of Portland Clark Library

IHW 312: Research Design & Analysis: Literature Review

Purposes of a Literature Review

Becoming an effective researcher requires that you know the relevant research that has already been completed about the topic and the methodologies used to research the topic in the past. The literature review will highlight a gap in the relevant research that you have been tracking and conclude with a research question.

Common stated goals of a literature review are

  • To describe the research conversation up to the time of writing, and the relationship of each work to the others, e.g.,
    • Who the key writers are
    • What the history of past research has been
    • What the prevailing theories and hypotheses are
    • What questions are being asked
    • What research methods have been used
    • What populations have been studied
  • To situate a research project within the already existing research
  • To identify what needs to happen next with research in the field
    • What gaps exist in previous research?
    • Are there new ways to interpret previous research?

Parts of a Literature Review

  • Introduction (e.g., context/reason/presenting problem/critical event/population),
  • Representation of the research conversation
  • How the current project extends the conversation

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