Writing Tip Wednesday: Lit Reviews (Part 1)

Dear Master’s Programs student:

Earlier in the semester, the Master’s Programs Office hosted its Literature Review seminar. For those who weren’t able to come, I’ve listed some of the points about which we talked.

  • Ask your instructor to suggest a model literature review.  This can be a great starting place to give you some ideas on how to organize your own review.  It may also provide you foundational articles to start your research process.
  • Make friends with the USC librarians. Melanee Vicedo, the USC social sciences librarian, is a phenomenal resource for researching in the field of education.  If you’re not sure exactly where to start, contact her for suggestions: vicedo@usc.edulit rev
  • Make a timeline for yourself, and stay on track.  It’s easy to procrastinate on a long-range assignment like a lit review.  By making a schedule, you’ll be sure to set enough time for each step in the research process.
  • Keep clear records of your searches and your findings from the beginning.  It takes a little more time in the beginning, but when you get down to citations in your review, this actually saves you time overall.
  • Remember that writing a literature review is a recursive process. As you read, you’ll refine your thoughts and assumptions; as you refine your thoughts and assumptions, your research focus may shift.  And as your focus shifts, you’ll modify your search terms and readings—then the whole process starts over again!

 

Happy writing,

James

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