One very strong note of caution, the Web provides us with seemingly limitless resources for scholarly exploration. If the only avenues to scholarly writings you had available to you were Google and Wikipedia, you might be able to pull together a relatively good undergraduate paper of three to five pages. For your paper and literature review, you need to use some of the resources the University Library provides. We have provided links to many resources from this site, but do not limit yourself if you see something in the popular literature that might lead you to further scholarly resources. While you are casting a wide net to cover your topic, it is also a very good time to review some of the criteria needed for critical thinking skills. Keep in mind at all times the consideration of authority, bias, persuasiveness, and contribution to the literature for each of the works you are reading. Focus your reading on leading authorities in your area, materials from highly regarded publishers, and those contributions that are most directly related to your topic. Test your knowledge on the topics of plagiarism and critical thinking skills through this brief tutorial related to these skills.
The literature review provides you, the student, with the foundation you need to intensively explore a topic. It is an overview and evaluation of the writings in a specific area of interest. You will find literature reviews in many types of writing – annual reviews by commercial publishers, scholarly journal articles, theses, and dissertations to name a few. The ultimate purpose of the literature review is to bring together and analyze significant writings on a topic. The purpose of the literature review is to show your intellectual grasp of a topic by sharing the knowledge that exists in your area of interest and evaluating this knowledge. It will help you identify important theorists, research groups and writing in your area of interest as well as the vocabulary, methods, history, and key variables used in the field of study.