Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Assignment | Term Research Paper (Suh): Lit Review

Prof. Suh, GOVTH 2305 | Fall 2020

About the Literature Review

"Literature review" is a fancy term for what's, practically speaking, the kind of paper you're already most accustomed to: the kind where you pick a topic, research some sources to develop a position, and then weave them all together into an essay.

It provides a review of the literature: a survey of what experts in the field are saying and have said about your topic. It can also identify knowledge gaps and possibilities for future research. You are not presenting an argument yet.

Simple illustration with article pages representing 4 different sources. Pieces of fruit are placed on each: green apples, red apples, grapes, and a pumpkin. The red apples are circled as stand-ins for a pattern.It should not be written like a book report: "This article by Smith says... [summary]." New paragraph, "The book by Hernandez says... [summary]." You're summarizing the big ideas (not the sources themselves) to the end goal of synthesizing all your research, with your citations sprinkled in throughout to indicate that yes, people are saying these things and look how it overlaps!

Organize by ideas/concepts, not by sources of information. Don't simply summarize one source after another. Look for patterns across your sources.

Take a look at this professionally published example (link goes to databases; barcode required): notice how sources are frequently integrated and discussed. This one is a more formal lit review and gets into how the authors organized their search; it's also a standalone paper. Of note:

  • Citations can be thick on the ground! It's a good sign when you have multiple sources that you can incorporate into one sentence. (The example uses APA style, but you'll be using CMOS footnotes, of course.)

Example of a sentence in a lit review -- 3 citations, one sentence!

  • But you can also delve more deeply into single sources, too.

Single citation intro to a paragraph exploring it more specifically

Citations: Let's Get Ready to Footnote

"Insert Footnote" button in Word is circled -- it's under References, in the 'footnotes' options cluster.

Word will handle all the numbering and spacing for you: just keep clicking the "Insert Footnote" button after sentences with quotes or paraphrases you need to add attributions to! Remember, footnotes have both long and short forms. See the Chicago Guide for more details and examples.

Citing Multiple Sources in One Single Footnote

As discussed, you're really putting your sources to work in the literature review and you're especially trying to get them to gang up with each other. This means you may should have places where multiple sources are attached to a single sentence...and therefore to a single footnote.

Example of one footnote with 2 citations, separated by a semi-colon.

Example of 2 citations in 1 footnote, but one of the citations is in the short/concise note form.

Note: if you mention the author in-text...

If you've given the full name of the author in your paper, you can skip including the first name in your full footnote (and of course, the first name is dropped for the short footnote form anyway).

Footnote with full note, just no first name because he was named in the paper.

Writing Lab

Request an Upswing account for online writing help with the UP writing coaches! (Currently-enrolled UP students only.)

What's Upswing & how does this work?

Is the writing coach in? Today's hours: