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Summer Undergraduate Research Program (SURP) Library Resources

Resources for your information research, from your College Librarian

Understanding Literature Reviews

What are Literature Reviews?
In Literature Review and Research Design : A Guide to Effective Research Practice, author David Harris identifies three basic types of literature review that appear in scholarly writing (p. 139):
  • Summary Overview: "surveys different ideas found in some body of literature on a given subject. Reviews and summarizes what has been published by others on a subject without aspiring to provide any novel analytical insight."
    • Example: Textbooks, traditional review articles
  • Research Background: “provides background for a specific study by discussing the ideas that helped define the research questions. Its purpose is to explain the intellectual sources that inform a specific research project”. 
    • Examples: Dissertations, theses and empirical studies (i.e. most research articles). 
  • Research Study:  “formal and methodical analysis of a body of literature that is an empirical research study in its own right."
    • Examples: Systematic reviews and meta-analyses

Adapted from Harris, David J. Literature Review and Research Design : A Guide to Effective Research Practice . 1st edition, Routledge, 2019

Make Good Use of Sources

How to Use Sources in Research and Writing 

(From the Library's Research 101 series)


Source: Bizup, Joseph. “BEAM: A Rhetorical Vocabulary for Teaching Research-Based Writing.” Rhetoric Review 27.1 (2008): 72-86. Communication & Mass Media Complete. Web. 4 February 2014.

BACKGROUND: Using a source to provide general information to explain the topic.

EXHIBIT: Using a source as evidence or examples to analyze.

ARGUMENT: Using a source to engage its argument. Most will be scholarly sources written by researchers and scholars. These are the sources you engage in conversation.

METHOD: Using a source's way of analyzing an issue to apply to your own issue, whether it's to borrow an approach, concept, idea, or method.