For your last project, you will write a 1500-1750-word review of the scholarly literature on a topic of current interest within your discipline. First, you’ll want to choose a topic within your discipline that you’d like to explore further. To expedite your work, you may want to choose a topic related to the sources you already analyzed for your genre analysis paper. Next, you’ll want to find sources that discuss your topic from authoritative sources within your discipline. Use the same search techniques you’ve been refining over the course of the semester to find your sources. In total, you should discuss at least seven scholarly (peer-reviewed) sources. Please remember that book reviews, introductions, and editorials in journals do not count as sources. You are more than welcome to include sources that you’ve already used for other course assignments as long as you are sure that they are highly regarded within your discipline, e.g. from using citation indexes, etc. In general, the sources you use should also have been published relatively recently. You’re not discussing the formal features of a group of articles, nor are you analyzing one in depth. You’ll have to recognize what the conventions of scholarship in your field are in order to write your review. You’ll also need to be able to analyze a scholarly source. Just this time, you’ll be analyzing works together, not in isolation.
A literature review is not a mere summary of the scholarly literature on a given topic. Instead, a literature review is a synthesis. It ties different sources together, noting their similarities and differences – chronologicallly, methodologically, or thematically. It does not merely list its sources, but rather synthesizes and critiques the sources by arguing that the reader should take a particular perspective on them.
Your literature review should begin with an introduction, which introduces your topic and includes a substantive, analytical thesis. The thesis should argue for a particular perspective on the sources you discuss. Introduce the topic in broad terms, include your research question, and give your reader a road map for the paper ahead. It should also be clear from the introduction why and to whom your chosen topic is important.
The body of your literature review should analyze and discuss the topic using your sources. A literature review does the following:
Some additional questions you might want to ask as you write are: Do the sources present one or different solutions? Is there an aspect of the field that is missing? How well do the sources present the material and do they portray it according to an appropriate theory? Do they reveal a trend in the field? A raging debate?
Paragraphs should not be organized by individual source, but rather by theme or subtopic. This means that you should not merely summarize your sources individually and then move on to the next. Instead, you should synthesize them. You could potentially organize your essay chronologically, methodologically, or thematically.
End your review with a conclusion that includes what you see as your “so what?” Your conclusion may also be an appropriate place to raise questions you still have about the topic or to include recommendations you have for future research on the topic.
Your literature review should also include citations and a references/bibliography page formatted according to the citation style used by your discipline.
Your literature review will receive a letter grade, reflecting how well your writing has met the following standards. I’ll recognize work that exceeds the standards with a plus (+), and work that nearly reaches the standards with a minus (-). A successful literature review will…
 Adapted from sample ENGH 302 assignments
 Adapted from UNC Writing Center