A comparative review may, e.g., require you to examine two schools of thought, two issues, or the positions taken by two persons. You may create a hierarchy of issues and sub-issues to compare and contrast, as suggested by the following general plan.
This model lists 3 options for structuring the body of the review. In all cases, you are expected to deal with the similarities ( compare ) and then with the differences ( contrast ): Introduction, Body, & Conclusion
Literature Review Example 3 offers an excellent example of a comparative review [ Language and gender ]. This was written by Alastair Pennycook for his undergraduate students as a model of (among other things) of how to structure a review of the literature - for an example of the above structure.
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The Bryn Mawr Review of Comparative Literature was published from 1999 to 2013.
From the original publication: The Bryn Mawr Review of Comparative Literature is an on-line journal whose purpose is to make available in a timely fashion reviews of new books in the field. It is modeled on its sister journal, Bryn Mawr Classical Review , which has been highly successful in circulating reviews soon after publication. The editors hope to reflect the evolving, dynamic nature of Comparative Literature in the range of books covered, from studies of national literatures to theoretical, interdisciplinary and cultural inquiries.
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Learn how to write a review of literature
What is a review of literature.
The format of a review of literature may vary from discipline to discipline and from assignment to assignment.
A review may be a self-contained unit — an end in itself — or a preface to and rationale for engaging in primary research. A review is a required part of grant and research proposals and often a chapter in theses and dissertations.
Generally, the purpose of a review is to analyze critically a segment of a published body of knowledge through summary, classification, and comparison of prior research studies, reviews of literature, and theoretical articles.
Writing the introduction
In the introduction, you should:
Define or identify the general topic, issue, or area of concern, thus providing an appropriate context for reviewing the literature.
Point out overall trends in what has been published about the topic; or conflicts in theory, methodology, evidence, and conclusions; or gaps in research and scholarship; or a single problem or new perspective of immediate interest.
Establish the writer’s reason (point of view) for reviewing the literature; explain the criteria to be used in analyzing and comparing literature and the organization of the review (sequence); and, when necessary, state why certain literature is or is not included (scope).
Writing the body
In the body, you should:
Group research studies and other types of literature (reviews, theoretical articles, case studies, etc.) according to common denominators such as qualitative versus quantitative approaches, conclusions of authors, specific purpose or objective, chronology, etc.
Summarize individual studies or articles with as much or as little detail as each merits according to its comparative importance in the literature, remembering that space (length) denotes significance.
Provide the reader with strong “umbrella” sentences at beginnings of paragraphs, “signposts” throughout, and brief “so what” summary sentences at intermediate points in the review to aid in understanding comparisons and analyses.
Writing the conclusion
In the conclusion, you should:
Summarize major contributions of significant studies and articles to the body of knowledge under review, maintaining the focus established in the introduction.
Evaluate the current “state of the art” for the body of knowledge reviewed, pointing out major methodological flaws or gaps in research, inconsistencies in theory and findings, and areas or issues pertinent to future study.
Conclude by providing some insight into the relationship between the central topic of the literature review and a larger area of study such as a discipline, a scientific endeavor, or a profession.
For further information see our handouts on Writing a Critical Review of a Nonfiction Book or Article or Reading a Book to Review It .
To learn more about literature reviews, take a look at our workshop on Writing Literature Reviews of Published Research.
Sample Literature Reviews
An important strategy for learning how to compose literature reviews in your field or within a specific genre is to locate and analyze representative examples. The following collection of annotated sample literature reviews written and co-written by colleagues associated with UW-Madison showcases how these reviews can do different kind of work for different purposes. Use these successful examples as a starting point for understanding how other writers have approached the challenging and important task of situating their idea in the context of established research.
- Sample 1 (PDF) A brief literature review within a political scientists’ National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship grant
- Sample 2 (PDF) A several-page literature review at the beginning of a published, academic article about philosophy
- Sample 3 (PDF) A brief literature review at the beginning of a published, academic article about photochemistry
Academic and Professional Writing
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A Short Guide to Close Reading for Literary Analysis
Using Literary Quotations
Writing a Rhetorical Précis to Analyze Nonfiction Texts
Incorporating Interview Data
Planning and Writing a Grant Proposal: The Basics
Additional Resources for Grants and Proposal Writing
Job Materials and Application Essays
Writing Personal Statements for Ph.D. Programs
- Before you begin: useful tips for writing your essay
- Guided brainstorming exercises
- Get more help with your essay
- Frequently Asked Questions
Resume Writing Tips
CV Writing Tips
Proposals and Dissertations
Resources for Proposal Writers
Resources for Dissertators
Planning and Writing Research Papers
Quoting and Paraphrasing
Writing Annotated Bibliographies
Creating Poster Presentations
Writing an Abstract for Your Research Paper
Advice for Students Writing Thank-You Notes to Donors
Reading for a Review
Writing a Review of Literature
Scientific Report Format
Sample Lab Assignment
Writing for the Web
Writing an Effective Blog Post
Writing for Social Media: A Guide for Academics
Literature Review: Why and How?
- Literature Review Overview
- Finding Books
- Sources for your Lit Review
- More Resources
What is a Literature Review?
A critical analysis of a segment of a published body of knowledge through summary, classification, and comparison of prior research studies, reviews of literature, and theoretical articles.
( University of Wisconsin Writing Center )
Why do a literature review?
- Understand the existing body of knowledge
- Discover your research niche and create your research agenda
- Identify controversies in your discipline
- Expose gaps in knowledge areas of dispute and uncertainty
- Identify the vocabulary of their topic
- Identify appropriate research methodologies
- Justify your proposed study as one that contributes something new to the body of knowledge
Literature Review Sources
UNC Chapel Hil l general description of a literature review and description of the steps for completing one
Learn how to write a review of the literature from University of Wisconsin Madison
Stages of a Literature Review
See this video on literature reviews from North Carolina State University:
Literature Reviews: An Overview for Graduate Students
Try a search by keyword in a few subject specialized databases
Keep in mind the difference between keyword and subject searching.
By trial and error and reading titles and abstracts, identify the vocabulary of your topic in your discipline
Identify key search terms (by subject and keyword)
Take notes on your searches already completed and how effective they were
Thorough, full search
Methodically check all book catalogs and article databases using keyword and subject terms (subject terms may change for each database used)
By reading books and articles, identify major authors
Do an author search for this author
- Who do these authors cite?
- Do an author search for these cited authors
Repeat your search in various book catalogs and article databases
Search for unpublished or grey literature using Google Scholar, think tank websites, and government sources (government reports often do not show up in Google results—search relevant agency sites for reports)
Take notes on any modification of the search as more information is gathered
Reference chaining :
- Go back in time with your topic
- Search bibliographies of papers found for additional studies related to your topic
- Go forward in time with your topic: use Google Scholar “cited by” to see how each article informed future studies on your topic. Also gives an idea of an author or article’s prominence in the field
Consider contacting experts to determine if all relevant writing has been reviewed.
How Do You Know When You're Done with Your Literature Review?
Your literature review should be an ongoing process as you’re writing. Check in on the literature at certain points as you write. You can also subscribe to alerts from databases and use RSS feeds to keep abreast of your topic.
You will start to see the same arguments, theories, and authors pop up again and again.
You’ll find that you're discovering no new citations.
You’ve already read articles cited in newly discovered literature.
If this happens, you're done!
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Literature reviews are undertaken by academics and students to collate, analyse, and critique the ideas and arguments presented in a range of research studies
A comparative review may, e.g., require you to examine two schools of thought, two issues, or the positions taken by two persons. You may create a hierarchy
published body of knowledge through: summary, classification, and comparison of prior research studies, reviews of literature, and theoretical articles.
From the original publication: The Bryn Mawr Review of Comparative Literature is an on-line journal whose purpose is to make available in a timely fashion
Abstract: This study presents a comparative literature review of the research studies related to the effects of drama in teaching English as a foreign
This study presents a comparative literature review of the research studies related to the effects of drama in teaching English as a foreign language.
What is a review of literature? The format of a review of literature may vary from discipline to discipline and from assignment to assignment.
A critical analysis of a segment of a published body of knowledge through summary, classification, and comparison of prior research studies
Abstract This paper provides an exhaustive review and categorization of market liquidity measures that are used to quantify liquidity in
Part of the Comparative Literature Commons, and the Critical and Cultural ... review articles of scholarly books and publishes research material in its.