... without knowing that I was about to write a lit review, as a (foreign) grad student in musicology (Univ of Illinois) in the 70s, I tried to answer in writing: 
WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT a given (xyz) TOPIC? It was overwhelming! So, the first thing you want to focus on is the WHAT part, as well as how much, who are the readers/learners, and why you are doing this. Then comes the craft that we learn (typically in lib schools--should be extended across all colleges and professional schools) about the ways we construct lit reviews (AKA meta analysis of results in a given discipline, on a subtopic, etc.). Katherine's matrix is an excellent way to conceptualize that HOW part of constructing and writing LR. 
Also looking at ARIST chapters might help :-)

Zorana Ercegovac

On Sat, Jan 21, 2012 at 5:09 PM, Katherine McCain <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
Sheri and Charles,

In one sense, there is a “best way” but it won’t be the kind of step-by-step approach that seems to be desired.
  • Consider a set of documents that discuss one or more themes on the subject of the review
  • You can model the documents as a matrix — each row is a document, each column is a topic potentially discussed by that document (this is not unlike a document/term matrix).
  • An annotated bibliography would “write across the rows” -- dealing with each document in turn. This is a way to write a very bad lit review
  • A better lit review would be to “write down the columns” -- taking up each theme in turn and discussing it with reference to the documents.

Kate McCain

On 1/20/12 11:00 PM, "Charles Hildreth" <[log in to unmask]" target="_blank">[log in to unmask]> wrote:


There is no single "best" way of doing a literature review. Much depends on the aim, scope and length of the research study being reported. Also, different literature reviews have different purposes. If you want a recipe, I suggest you consult a cookbook. Then, again, there is no single best recipe for any dish or food offering, except, of course, my wife's. You write, "I wanted one that’s been tested among our group." I wonder, just who are the members of your group?
Charles R. Hildreth, Ph.D.
146 Marks Avenue
Lancaster, Ohio 43130



Sheri A. Massey <[log in to unmask]" target="_blank">[log in to unmask]>
 To: [log in to unmask]" target="_blank">[log in to unmask]
 Sent: Friday, January 20, 2012 2:59 PM
 Subject: Literature Review Text

Hello All,

I am looking for a book or manual that walks a person through the steps of doing a literature review— very detailed, replicable steps.  There are many lit review books available, but I wanted one that’s been tested among our group.  Also, I am not looking for a complete guide to research, just something on literature reviews.

Thanks in advance for your help!


Sheri Anita Massey, Ph.D.
College of Information Studies
4117L Hornbake Library, South Wing
University of Maryland
O:  (301) 405-4580
F:   (301) 314-9145
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