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The Literature Review


The literature review serves an indispensable purpose in the academic world. Because no one can read every work of literature in the world, the literature reviews tell potential readers whether or not they should read the work. The literature reviews serve, in effect, as an information exchange in which the review writer tells the review reader what the work of literature accomplishes, and if the reader believes the analysis of the writer, he or she decides accordingly whether or not to read the work. Therefore, the literature review writer should form his or her opinions carefully and should argue them adeptly in the review.

In order to write the literature review well, then, the review writer should gather all pertinent information about the work. First, the writer should read the work at least once, but ideally several times. Then, if the writer has any questions about possible logical flaws, research errors, or painfully unoriginal material in the work, he or she should research those questions through third-party sources in order to find their answers. The literature review writer may also want to read other people's reviews of that work to see if they have found the same imperfections.

The literature review writer should not begin writing until after having fully developed and substantiated all opinions, because one who still has ambiguous thoughts cannot write a very persuasive argument. Once the writer has fully prepared, he or she should determine the level of sensationalism appropriate to the review audience and should write an argument the suits that level. For example, popular level literature reviews often hinge upon flashy phrases and ribald criticisms, but academic literature reviews contain their arguments on a much more objective, verifiable, reserved plane. For an academic literature review, the writer should try to balance validated criticisms with apt affirmations unless the book undoubtedly warrants a unilateral review: academic readers have accustomed themselves to reading with a fair amount of skepticism, and they will be quick to judge the review as harshly as they would judge the book.


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