VCU Libraries

Research Guides

Sociology

What is a Literature Review?

A literature review is an essential component of every research project. It requires “re-viewing” what credible scholars in the field have said, done, and found in order to help you:

  • Identify what is currently known in your area of interest
  • Establish an empirical/ theoretical/ foundation for your research
  • Identify potential gaps in knowledge that you might fill
  • Develop viable research questions and hypotheses
  • Determine appropriate methodologies
  • Decide upon the scope of your research
  • Demonstrate the importance of your research to the field
A literature review is not a descriptive annotated bibliography. All works included in the review must be read, evaluated, and analyzed, and synthesized, meaning that relationships between the works must also be discussed.
 

Using a Synthesis Matrix

As you read, you'll encounter various ideas, disagreements, methods, and perspectives which can be hard to organize in a meaningful way.

A synthesis matrix helps you record the main points of each source and document how sources relate to each other.

Preparing a Literature Review in the Behavioral and Social Sciences

Librarians Sergio Chaparro and Kelsey Cheshire from VCU Libraries present a webinar on creating a literature review in the behavioral and social sciences.

A link to the transcript is found here: https://guides.library.vcu.edu/ld.php...

Tools