Why do we seek to understand the ways that authors or sources “converse” with one another? So that we can various perspectives on a topic to more deeply understand it.
In academic writing, we synthesize sources to make sense of them as parts of a scholarly “conversation” about a particular topic. This of a “conversation” may become the content of an essay — a paper in which you, the writer, point out various themes or key points from a conversation between several authors who have contributed to one particular topic. This rhetorical move is one that takes place in various , but especially in .
Literature reviews—or “lit reviews”—synthesize previous research that has been done on a particular topic, summarizing important works in the history of research on that topic. The literature review provides for the author’s own new research. It is the basis and background out of which the author’s research grows. Context = credibility in academic writing. When writers are able to produce a literature review, they demonstrate the breadth of their knowledge about how others have already studied and discussed their topic. Literature reviews are often found in the beginning of scholarly journal articles to contextualize the author’s own research. Sometimes, literature reviews are done for their own sake, which means some scholarly articles are just literature reviews.
Literature Review Organization
Literature review organization will depend on your focus. The following are the most common organization patterns:
- Topic or Theme, which is good for a synthesis type presentation
- Chronological, which works best when considering how the research topic has been studied and discussed in various time periods (over a year or ten years) and is ideal for a topic that has a long history of research and scholarship
- Discipline or Field, which is best for interdisciplinary considerations as this arrangement could better offer information about how different academic fields have examined a particular topic
to put together or combine into a complex whole; to make up by combination of parts or elements
the composition or combination of parts or elements so as to form a whole
often thought of as a type or category of writing, e.g. business memos, organization charts, menus, book reviews; a discursive response to a recurrent, social action; materials that mediate social interaction
a summary and synthesis of other scholars’ work that has previously been published on the topic that a given composition addresses; often found at the beginning of an academic article
(also known as rhetorical situation) the context or set of circumstances out of which a text arises (author/speaker, audience, purpose, setting, text/speech)