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Annotated Bibliographies and Literature Reviews

Step-by-Step to a Literature Review

How to create a literature review step-by-step:

Notice that the first several steps are the same as those for an annotated bibliography, but then they are different. 

1) Make sure you have a good understanding of your assignment. Ask your professor for clarifications if you need them.

2) Select a topic and start finding information via OneSearch and Google. There is a video under the annotated bibliography step-by-step page showing how to do this. Ask a librarian if you need help anywhere in the research process. 

3) Start saving the citations to any resources that might be useful. You can save them in a document, email them to yourself (instructions are below), or it you prefer- you can print out all articles, and check out any books that might be of interest. Try different methods to find the one that works best for you and remember that this is an important part of the research process. 

To email resources to yourself, simply click on the icon that says email for the entry in OneSearch.

Enter your email into the box and send yourself the entry to save it for later. 

4) Start reading. You won't need to read most books from cover to cover, but note sections that are useful to you. You will probably want to read entire articles as they are shorter. Take notes. If you are ever unsure, Ask a librarian for a research consultation.

5) Evaluate what you read and look for patterns between different resources. Make connections between each resource. How did they come to their main argument (thesis)? How did they conduct studies? Did they all make similar assumptions? Who is cited frequently and therefore is probably a leader in their field? What theories are popular? What has changed over time? 

6) Figure out how you would like to organize the sources in your paper. There are different strategies, all of which are valid depending on how you would like to structure your argument. This could be: chronological, by theme, by like authors, by contrasting ideas, or from general to more specific. Your methods may vary, but should be consistent and support your thesis. There is a video below that can help you with this process. 

7) Write your paper and be sure to cite your sources. 

8) Be sure to revise and edit your work before submitting to your professor. If you need help anywhere in this process, contact the Writing Center. 

Developed by David Taylor