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HWST 603: Review of Hawaiian Literature

This LibGuide was created for the HWST 603 course. Resources in this guide focus on annotated bibliographies, literature reviews, and primary and secondary sources.

Annotated Bibliography vs. Literature Review

Annotated Bibliography Examples:

Literature Review Examples:

Writing an Annotated Bibliography: Summarize. Assess. Reflect.

An annotated bibliography gives an account of the research that has been done on a given topic. Like any bibliography, an annotated bibliography is an alphabetical list of research sources. In addition to bibliographic data, an annotated bibliography provides a concise summary of each source and some assessment of its value or relevance. Depending on your assignment, an annotated bibliography may be one stage in a larger research project, or it may be an independent project standing on its own. (Knott, 2004)

Check out these resources for more information and tips for writing an Annotated Bibliography:

When writing a literature review, ask yourself questions like these:

  1. What is the specific thesis, problem, or research question that my literature review helps to define?
  2. What type of literature review am I conducting? Am I looking at issues of theory? methodology? policy? quantitative research (e.g. on the effectiveness of a new procedure)? qualitative research (e.g., studies of loneliness among migrant workers)?
  3. What is the scope of my literature review? What types of publications am I using (e.g., journals, books, government documents, popular media)? What discipline am I working in (e.g., nursing psychology, sociology, medicine)?
  4. How good was my information seeking? Has my search been wide enough to ensure I’ve found all the relevant material? Has it been narrow enough to exclude irrelevant material?
  5. Have I critically analyzed the literature I use? Do I follow through a set of concepts and questions, comparing items to each other in the ways they deal with them? Instead of just listing and summarizing items, do I assess them, discussing strengths and weaknesses?
  6. Have I cited and discussed studies contrary to my perspective?
  7. Will the reader find my literature review relevant, appropriate, and useful?

FromWriting Advice from the University of Toronto

Different ways to organize your literature review:

  1. CHRONOLOGICALLY: If your review follows the chronological method, you could write about your topic as it's explored over the course of time.  The publication date of your resources would be the central organization tool.  These literature reviews focus on examining research throughout a period of time, often starting with the first time an issue, concept, theory, phenomena emerged in the literature, then tracing its evolution within the scholarship of a discipline. The purpose is to place research in a historical context to show familiarity with state-of-the-art developments and to identify the likely directions for future research.
    • "A review of the literature of the past fifty years shows research on the motivation behind terrorist acts shifting focus from the psychological to the political and now the religious."

  2. THEMATICALLY (a.k.a. using "conceptual categories"): If your review follows the thematic method, you could write about your topic as it's explored in various sub-topics.  A review organized in this manner would shift between time periods within each section according to the point made.  These types of literature reviews help to establish what theories already exist, the relationships between them, to what degree the existing theories have been investigated, and to develop new hypotheses to be tested. Often this form is used to help establish a lack of appropriate theories or reveal that current theories are inadequate for explaining new or emerging research problems.
    • "While a review of the literature suggests some consensus among researchers regarding the psychological state of most terrorists immediately preceding the commission of a terrorist act, there appears to be little agreement regarding the psychological profile of potential terrorists."

  3. METHODOLOGICALLY:  A review does not always focus on what someone said [findings], but how they came about saying what they say [method of analysis]. Reviewing methods of analysis provides a framework for understanding how researchers draw upon a wide variety of knowledge ranging from the conceptual level to practical documents for use in fieldwork in the areas of ontological and epistemological consideration, quantitative and qualitative integration, sampling, interviewing, data collection, and data analysis. This approach helps highlight ethical issues which you should be aware of and consider as you go through your own study.
    • "In the effort to understand political extremism, researchers have taken various approaches. Some have surveyed vast libraries of historical literature; others have sifted through stores of church and government data; still others have used the ethnographer's tools of first-hand interview and observation."

Adapted from The Literature Review by USC Libraries

For each resource you find, ask yourself these questions:

  1. Has the author formulated a problem/issue?
  2. Is it clearly defined? Is its significance (scope, severity, relevance) clearly established?
    • Could the problem have been approached more effectively from another perspective?
  3. What is the author’s theoretical framework (e.g., psychological, developmental, feminist)?
    • What is the relationship between the theoretical and research perspectives?
  4. Has the author evaluated the literature relevant to the problem/issue?
    • Does the author include literature taking positions she or he does not agree with?
  5. How does the author structure the argument?
    • Can you “deconstruct” the flow of the argument to see whether or where it breaks down logically (e.g., in establishing cause-effect relationships)?
  6. In what ways does this resource contribute to our understanding of the problem under study? What are the strengths and limitations?
  7. How does this resource relate to the specific thesis or question I am developing?

From Writing Advice from the University of Toronto


  • Use Evidence
    • A literature review section is, in this sense, just like any other academic research paper. Your interpretation of the available sources must be backed up with evidence [citations] that demonstrates that what you are saying is valid.
  • Be Selective
    • Select only the most important points in each source to highlight in the review. The type of information you choose to mention should relate directly to the research problem, whether it is thematic, methodological, or chronological. Related items that provide additional information but that are not key to understanding the research problem can be included in a list of further readings.
  • Use Quotes Sparingly
    • Some short quotes are okay if you want to emphasize a point, or if what an author stated cannot be easily paraphrased. Sometimes you may need to quote certain terminology that was coined by the author, not common knowledge, or taken directly from the study. Do not use extensive quotes as a substitute for your own summary and interpretation of the literature.
  • Summarize and Synthesize
    • Remember to summarize and synthesize your sources within each thematic paragraph as well as throughout the review. Recapitulate important features of a research study, but then synthesize it by rephrasing the study's significance and relating it to your own work.
  • Keep Your Own Voice
    • While the literature review presents others' ideas, your voice [the writer's] should remain front and center. For example, weave references to other sources into what you are writing but maintain your own voice by starting and ending the paragraph with your own ideas and wording.
  • Use Caution When Paraphrasing
    • When paraphrasing a source that is not your own, be sure to represent the author's information or opinions accurately and in your own words. Even when paraphrasing an author’s work, you still must provide a citation to that work.

A poor literature review:

  • Includes sources that do not clearly relate to the research problem
  • Does not define and identify the most relevant sources for the stated research question(s)
  • Relies exclusively on secondary analytical sources rather than including relevant primary research studies or data
  • Uncritically accepts another researcher's findings and interpretations as valid, rather than examining critically all aspects of the research design and analysis
  • Does not describe the search procedures that were used in identifying the literature to review
  • Only includes research that validates assumptions and does not consider contrary findings and alternative interpretations found in the literature.