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Literature Review


A literature review evaluates a given work of literature. In contrast to a book report, which exclusively discusses the content of the book, a literature review provides a brief summary of the content of the work of literature and then analyzes it in order to help others know whether or not it is worth reading.

Students who write literature reviews must first provide a summary of the text. The student must leave out the vast majority of details, limiting discussion to that which is integral to the content of the book. Usually a student can create a nice summary by using the information found in the table of contents, if the work of literature has one; if not, the student may write a summary by identifying the main idea of each chapter or section.

Second, the student must analyze and evaluate the work of literature. The student may find it somewhat useful to read others' reviews on the same book to find out what the experts are saying about it; additionally, the student should use his or her best academic training in evaluating the content of the book. The student should point out how the work of literature is useful to the field. These statements must be specific and must relate directly to the field and to the book; the student should not write sentences such as, "I liked this book." The student should also clearly identify what the text's flaws are, such as distorted or missing information, logical errors, or persistently inept writing. Again, the student must be specific.

A good literature review clearly explains to the reader why the book is valuable or why it is not. Although the literature review deals heavily with personal opinion, the student should not use first-person pronouns but should simply state those opinions as if they were fact. A good literature review convinces the reader of the reviewer's opinions through the use of strong rhetoric and viable information.


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