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Literature Review: The What, Why and How-to Guide — Other Academic Writings

This guide will help you understand what is a Literature Review, why it is important and how it is done.

Annotated Bibliographies

Sometimes people confuse Literature Reviews with Annotated Bibliographies but they are quite different in format but they are similar in purpose, to survey the literature.

So what is an annotated bibliography? "... is a list of citations to books, articles, and documents. Each citation is followed by a brief (usually about 150 words) descriptive and evaluative paragraph, the annotation. The purpose of the annotation is to inform the reader of the relevance, accuracy, and quality of the sources cited.” Definition from Cornell University Library, available at http://olinuris.library.cornell.edu/ref/research/skill28.htm <Accessed September 26, 2011>

To write a good annotated bibliography you need to be:

  • Concise: Get to the point of what the book/article is about, in few words, summarize.
  • Evaluative: Determine who is the author, what is his/her expertise in the topic, how reliable is the information
  • Critical: Reflect on what is the strength and weakness of the work, what is missing, etc.
  • Comparative: Describe how the book/article compares to other similar works

Useful site with tips on how to write an Annotated Bibliography:

Research Prospectus

The Research Prospectus is a planning document, usually use before writing your thesis or some seminar paper to complete a degree (e.g. Master's thesis or Plan B paper). It does include a working bibliography and small literature review. Below are some useful links on how to write a prospectus, best practices and examples.

Critical Essays