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A literature review assignment is a broad-ranging, critical view of the literature on a particular topic. It is similar to the literature review of a thesis, with one major difference: the main aim of a literature review assignment is to summarize and critically evaluate the literature to establish current knowledge of a topic. The thesis literature review also needs to do this, but it also needs to identify a gap in the literature that will be filled by the writer’s research. Although a literature review is structured like an essay and is often a similar length, there are differences: in an essay, you argue a point of view, whereas in a literature review assignment, you critically analyze the literature in order to understand what is known about a topic. Questions are often similar to this: Critically review the literature surrounding an area of mental health among Black men. What should I include in my literature review assignment?

Your literature review assignment should include the following: The main ideas, theories and concepts related to your topic. Areas of agreement and disagreement related to your topic Any problems or gaps in the literature related to your topic. Method section documenting how you found your literature (e.g., key words used, date range, number of literature identified from each database etc). MUST BE WRITTEN IN APA STYLE Here are some things to think about: What are some common themes? Compare and contrast the various findings, arguments, theories, and methodologies in the literature. What do the authors agree or disagree about? What are the major areas of disagreement, controversy, or debate? Critique the literature; synthesize and evaluate the research, don’t just describe or report it. Look for any assumptions or bias in the literature. What is ‘the literature’? The literature refers to previous work or sources of information relevant to your topic. There are three sources of materials: Primary sources: First-hand reports of original studies, mainly found in academic journal articles. Secondary sources: Critical evaluations and syntheses of original studies. Tertiary sources: Information and ideas often put together from primary or secondary sources, such as text books, encyclopedias, etc. You should mainly use primary sources and perhaps the occasional secondary source. Should I use quotes or paraphrases? Quotations are usually used only for: definitions of technical terms or key words and concepts particularly significant phrasing maintaining the writer’s specific intention. Paraphrases are the main method of citing authors. The advantages of paraphrasing are: showing that you understand and can interpret the original material allowing you to maintain your own voice.

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