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Literature Reviews

Decide on a Topic

Choosing your topic is an important first step in conducting and writing a literature review.

Your Topic

  • Should not be so narrow that no or very little previous research has been done on the topic.
  • Should also not be so general that there is too much information, making it hard to focus ideas and information.

You may find it helpful to brainstorm; choose an interesting and strong topic; conduct a preliminary search; refine your topic; and write the topic as a statement.


Write down a few different topics that you find interesting from your practice, classes, and reading which make you curious and you think are important.

Choose an Interesting and Strong Topic 

Discuss these initial topics with your advisor and project partner to get their feedback. This feedback will help you to choose a topic that is of interest to both you and your sponsor, which will make your topic even stronger.

Conduct a Preliminary Search 

Do a quick search on each of your initial topics to see what information is available. This will give you an idea of the strength of each topic.

Refine Your Topic

Based on this preliminary search, refine the strongest topic to be sure it is neither too narrow nor too general.

Write the Topic as a Statement 

Write the refined topic as a complete, clear sentence. This can help you to focus throughout the rest of the literature review process.


Keep in mind that your topic may change once you search for literature and read the literature. This is okay; remember that conducting a literature review is an iterative process.

Remember: Continually discuss your topic and your ideas with your advisor.