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Research Methods at SCS

Literature Reviews

A literature review is a synthesis of published information on a particular research topics. The purpose is to map out what is already known about a certain subject, outline methods previously used, prevent duplication of research, and, along these lines, reveal gaps in existing literature to justify the research project.

Unlike an annotated bibliography, a literature review is thus organized around ideas/concepts, not the individual sources themselves. Each of its paragraphs stakes out a position identifying related themes/issues, research design, and conclusions in existing literature.

Annotated Bibliographies

An annotated bibliography is a bibliography that gives a summary of each article or book. The purpose of annotations is to provide the reader with a summary and an evaluation of the source. Each summary should be a concise exposition of the source's central idea(s) and give the reader a general idea of the source's content.

The purpose of an annotated bibliography is to:

  • review the literature of a particular subject;
  • demonstrate the quality and depth of reading that you have done;
  • exemplify the scope of sources available—such as journals, books, websites and magazine articles;
  • highlight sources that may be of interest to other readers and researchers;
  • explore and organize sources for further research.

Further Reading:


"Literature Reviews: An Overview for Graduate Students" 2009. NC State University Libraries

Writing the Literature Review

Matrix for Organizing Sources for Literature Reviews / Annotated Bibliographies

Journal Citation Reports


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