Resources and Tips for Writing a Literature Review

A literature review is a thorough summary and synthesis of the work that has gone on in a particular field. A successful literature review gives the reader a clear, concise overview of the work that has already been done on a certain problem or a certain area of study. This means that the author of a literature review has to boil down discussions of topics that may span decades of research and thousands of papers into a document that can be easily read and understood. The requires good organization, concise writing, and a solid understanding of what is most important about the field.

These first two resources give general instructions and guidelines writing a good literature review. In particular, pay attention to what both sources have to say about being concise. A literature review is not a summary of the sources you have selected; it is an overview of the field. Do not get bogged down covering the specifics and details of each paper. Cover the information in the paper you selected that is most important and relevant to the field or problem that is being discussed, and then move on.

These other two references are peer-reviewed literature reviews that appeared in the Journal of Artificial Intelligence Research. The length, level of detail, and the number of references used is (obviously) much more than what is required for the literature review for this course, but it should be useful to see what a real published literature review on artificial intelligence research looks like. Pay more attention to the organization and writing style, and much less to the content and details.

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Comments to: Maria Gini
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