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A Lit Review: • places the paper within the context of known research on the subject; focuses one’s own research topic.• provides thorough knowledge of previous studies; introduces seminal works.
A Lit Review is about the existing literature on your subject and provides background for your own research findings or commentary.
How much sense does your research make if you don’t provide background to the reader about past research conducted by others? A Lit Review provides your reader with a survey of the professional publications available on your topic.
Their published findings can provide a useful source of information, depending on your field of study. Since newspapers are generally intended for a general (not specialized) audience, the information they provide will be of no use for your Lit Review.
Journalists are generally not scholars, i.e., experts on the topic on which they are writing, and thus newspaper articles are not scholarly sources.
• Theses and dissertations: Can be a good source for a Lit Review. However there are disadvantages: 1) they can be difficult to obtain since they are not always published but are generally only available from the library shelf or through interlibrary loan; 2) the student who carried out the research may not be an experienced researcher and therefore you might have to treat their findings with more caution than published research.
Note: Some dissertations are available from the Du Bois Library databases. The fastest-growing source of information is on the Internet.
• identifies gaps in previous studies; identifies flawed methodologies and/or theoretical approaches; avoids replication of mistakes.
• identifies possible trends or patterns in the literature.
It is impossible to characterize the information available but here are some hints about using electronic sources: 1) bear in mind that anyone can post information on the Internet so the quality may not be reliable, and 2) the information you find may be intended for a general audience and so may not be suitable for inclusion in your Lit Review (information for a general audience is usually less detailed and less scholarly). Magazines intended for a general audience, e.g., Time, Us, National Enquirer, will not be useful in providing the sort of information you need.
Note: This section does not refer to scholarly articles located on the Du Bois Library databases. Specialized magazines may be more useful (for example business magazines for management students), but usually magazines are not useful for your research except as a starting point by providing news or general information about new discoveries, policies, etc.