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Writing A Literature Review: Evaluating

This guide provides information and links on how to write literature reviews.

Step 3: Assessment

  1. Provenance  —  What are the author's credentials? Are the author's arguments supported by evidence (e.g. primary historical material, case studies, narratives, statistics, recent scientific findings)?
  2. Objectivity  —  Is the author's perspective even-handed or prejudicial? Is contrary data considered or is certain pertinent information ignored to prove the author's point?
  3. Persuasiveness  —  Which of the author's theses are most/least convincing?
  4. Value  —  Are the author's arguments and conclusions convincing? Does the work ultimately contribute in any significant way to an understanding of the subject?

Questions to Guide Your Evaluation of Sources

When reading and analyzing past research on your topic, consider the following questions:

  • Top of ForWhat is the focus of the research presented in the resource?
  • What is the thesis or argument presented in the resource?
  • Does the resource include a review of the literature on the topic?
  • What research methods and/or data sources did the author(s) of the resource use to build their research?
  • What are the findings of the research and what conclusions does the author(s) draw based on these findings?
  • What do you perceive to be the strengths and the weaknesses of the research presented in the resource? 
  • How do you feel that the research presented in the resource informs the current understanding of the topic?
  • How does the research presented in the resource relate to other research that you intend to report upon in your literature review?
  • How does the research presented in the resource relate to your topic and, if applicable, to your own research?

The bulk of your literature review will be devoted to reporting upon past research on your topic. You can use the above-listed questions to guide and inform your reports on each of the resources that you include in your review. Pay particular attention to any themes that emerge while you read and analyze past research on your topic. You can use these themes to structure your reports on past research on the topic. You can also use the themes to inform and/or to provide a counterpoint to the thesis or the argument(s) that you put forward in your review. 


An annotated example of a literature review

Published, literature review -- a search on CINAHL database