Literature Review

Due Date: October 13

Write a literature review (about 1000 words with at least a dozen references) that summarizes and sythesizies a topic that relates to your final project. Please use APA reference format. To submit your literature review, please write a short abstract in the blog system and include a link to a PDF of your full literature review by end of day Monday, October 12.

The purpose of the literature review is to survey and synthesize prior work done in a specific area. However, this does not mean that the review should consist of just a list of references — a review is the synthesis, as seen by the author (you). This also means that it is okay if the review is in your “voice”. When synthesizing, you might ask yourself a few questions: What gaps are there? What are opportunities for future work? How do the themes you've summarized relate to the work you want to do?

You may also want to include images. For example, for a review on graphical interfaces for pet cats, you should include a representative sample of images showing these interfaces. References can also include links to videos, blog-posts, websites, technical reports, etc.

While choosing a topic for a review, pay special attention to the scope. It is easy to fall into the trap of choosing a topic that is too broad to be covered in a single literature review. If you are interested in a specific topic that may be too broad, think about ways in which the scope can be constrained. For example, “Technology in American Education” is a very broad topic. A smaller subtopic can be “Technology in American School Education from 1960-1970”, or “Robotics in American Kindergartens”.

For managing your reference list, you can use Zotero, a free tool that let’s you create citations from websites such as Google Scholar and JStor, generate bibliographies, and more. For a short introduction to Zotero, take a look at their quick start guide.

Other online guides to writing literature reviews:

  1. University of North Carolina
  2. University of Wisconsin - Madison