Michigan State University

MC 399: Political Ecology of the Mekong

Class guide for MC 399: Political Ecology of the Mekong, Spring 2023

Writing a Literature Review

A literature review draws together already published literature on a topic and brings the individual arguments made into conversation with one another.  Literature reviews can concentrate only on journal articles or can be broader, depending on the goals of the review.

As you work on choosing the focus for your literature review, remember that you do not need to include every source you find just for the sake of including it.  Decide what parameters you will use to choose materials for your review, which could include topic, publication year, format, place of publication, and more.  You will also have to decide whether you want to include grey literature or literature that hasn't been peer reviewed, whether you want to include literature not written in English, and whether and how you might want to include research and perspectives from the Mekong region.

You should structure your literature review around themes that you can determine as you read through the research you have chosen to include.  These themes may make good subheadings to organize your literature review.

As you write, remember that you are shedding light on the broad academic conversation around the topic you have chosen.  What are scholars working in this field writing about?  How are their perspectives similar and different from one another?  A particularly successful literature review will address a specific issue or problem or offer a new on the topic being explored.

Example Literature Reviews

Citation Management Software

Zotero is an open-source citation management software that can be used to track articles and other references you plan to use in your literature review.

The library regularly holds workshops that teach how to use Zotero and other citation management tools.