The Literature Review

29 The Five ‘C’s of Writing a Literature Review

To help you frame and write your literature review, think about these five ‘c’s (Callahan, 2014).

  1. Cite the material you have referred to and used to help you define the research problem that you will study.
  2. Compare the various arguments, theories, methods, and findings expressed in the literature.  For example, describe where the various researchers agree and where they disagree. Describe the similarities and dissimilarities in approaches to studying related research problems.
  3. Contrast the various arguments, themes, methods, approaches, and controversies apparent and/or described in the literature.  For example, describe what major areas are contested, controversial and/or still in debate.
  4. Critique the literature.  Describe which arguments you find more persuasive and explain why.  Explain which approaches, findings, and methods seem most reliable, valid, appropriate, and/or most popular and why.  Pay attention to the verbs you use to describe what previous researchers have stated (e.g. asserts, demonstrates, argues, clarifies, etc.).
  5. Connect the various research studies you reviewed.  Describe how your work utilizes, draws upon, departs from, synthesizes, adds to or extends previous research studies.

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