Literature Review (or Background)

To show your advisor that you know what your talking about concerning your project, you need to demonstrate that you know the background and context of your topic. Good questions to answer in this section are:

  1. What kinds of research have been done before (including previous IQPs and MQPs which can be accessed through the reference desk at the library)?
  2. What relevant kinds of studies or techniques need to be mastered to do your project?
  3. Where is the state of the art today?
  4. How have others gone about trying to solve problems you want to tackle, and in what ways will your approach build on and vary from previous work?

Think of the background section as the place where you identify and discuss the most important books, articles, or any other kind of source materials for your project. If you wanted to bring another student up to date on what you're doing, what would be the most important thing to read? A well written review will provide a sense of critical issues and debates which form the background for your own original work.

Everything in your literature review section should be mentioned in your bibliography, BUT not everything in the bibliography is important enough to be mentioned in the literature review. In other words, this section is a comment on the most valuable material you have identified which you will need to assimilate to do your project. The literature review thus provides a guide to all material you list separately as footnotes or bibliography.

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