Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.
Banner Image

Literature Review Challenge for Undergrads

Welcome to Day 1 of the Literature Review Challenge!

Today we will begin looking at what comprises a literature review, and identify ways to refine a research topic. 

In a nutshell, a literature review brings together a range of relevant works on a topic, and is intended to:

  • explore compelling questions, problems, concepts, or issues that you would like to address;
  • identify relationships between ideas, and sources;
  • critique and synthesize various strands of the conversation(s) taking place around your topic(s);
  • identify research gaps, areas for further consideration, and/or disagreements in the literature.

Although a literature review tells a story, the research process that goes into that storytelling is nonlinear. There are likely many lines of study/angles/perspectives on your topic(s), and a literature review is an opportunity for you to make meaning of all that you are learning.

To get started, it's important to identify a researchable topic, and a research question that will drive your research process, and ultimately, your writing process. Watch these two short videos that suggests ways to define and/or refine a topic for a research project.

From North Carolina University Libraries

From Laurier University Library

Your Challenge: Modify This Template to Define or Further Refine a Research Question You're Working On

Feel free to do some initial research to help you further refine your research question and identify ideas you think fit into the template above. It is common to modify your research question, and your assumptions about what you think you'll find, as you learn more about your topic. So, don't feel like you're stuck with your original idea if you find that there's a particular direction you now want to take, or if you find that what you were originally interested in has already been answered. That's the beauty, and flexibility, of research!

To make a copy of the template at the link above, click on File, and then Download.

Optional, Awesome BONUS Challenge: Email your Subject Specialist (a librarian who works specifically within your discipline or on your research topic area) and Set Up a Meeting! 

Subject librarians are great at brainstorming ideas with you, suggesting ways to refine your research question(s), helping you optimize your search for relevant literature, and helping you make sense of what you find. If you're not sure whom to contact, reach out to me, Jen Bonnet, at!

Nice job! You completed Day 1 of the Literature Review Challenge!
Stay tuned tomorrow for strategic search tips and tricks. 

5729 Fogler Library · University of Maine · Orono, ME 04469-5729 ; (207) 581-1673

Chat is offline. Contact the library.