From Shan-Estelle Brown. Writing in Anthropology: a Brief Guide. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017.
REVIEWING THE LITERATURE
First Look at the Title and Identify Its Key Words
Review the Abstract
Examine the Structure
Identify the Purpose
Ask the Essential Questions:
- What is the Question, Controversy, or Problem Driving the Study?
- Who or What Group was Being Studied
- How was the Study Executed? What Method was Used? What Kind of Study was Done?
- What Questions were Addressed or Asked in the Study to Generate Data?
- What was Found in the Study? What were the Results of the Study? Why did the Scientists They they Found what they Found?
- How does this study—in its Methods as well as in the Findings it Shares—Relate to other Relevant or Potential Studies?
DEVELOPING YOUR ARGUMENT
To move from a series of summaries to an argument, ask yourself the following:
- What is my specific problem or research question?
- How does each source relate to it?
- What type of literature review am I conducting?
- Am I seeing trends in theory, in methods, within the work of specific researchers, in findings across sources? What can I say about the trend?
- What unexpected findings or patterns emerged as I read across the literature?
- Are there contradictions or telling points of disagreement in the literature?
- Where do I stand on the specific debates under way among the authors of the sources?