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Documentary: Literature Review

What is a literature review?

The lit review that you are doing for your documentary project is slightly modified version of an actual literature review. A literature review is a presentation on what is the current state of knowledge on any particular topic. Or in other words, what are the scholars saying about _____ topic. It is not just a summary of various sources; rather it is a synthesis of various subtopics across sources and the similarities/disagreements between those various sources. The review is organized by subtopic rather than the source itself.

A literature review would usually be based upon thesis driven arguments where researcher "A" maintains one argument and researcher "B" maintains another.  Your job is to then:

  • Show the most relevant information found in each source
  • Assess the expertise of the author
  • Identify theories
  • identify variables

Synthesis Matrix

A challenge will be keeping your information organized since you have to keep subtopics and individual sources in mind. A matrix will help you do this.  This chart allows you to, across the top, record your sources. Along the side you will organize by subtopic

Class Handout: Student Guide to Literature Reviews

Sample Literature Review

Literature Review

Bryant, Nita. "The Review." VCU Libraries Research Guides, Virginia Commonwealth
     University, 14 Aug. 2017, Accessed 18
     Oct. 2017.