Writing a Literature Review

Part of my research work for the summer has consisted of writing a literature review.  This entails reading over articles pertaining to my research question, writing summaries, and integrating the information they contain in order to situate my own research question within a broader academic context.  The impact of media coverage on various facets of public policy and politics has been studied extensively, but many questions about the full effect of media coverage remain.

News media informs the population about the issues of the day, thereby acting as an “agenda-setting” force (Hamilton 2004). They influence the public’s perception by not only highlighting certain issues over others, but also by framing selective elements of a subject. Traditionally, news sources have also acted as “gatekeepers” in control of the flow of information from political elites to citizens (Popkin 2007).  As a purveyor of information, new media occupies a pivotal role in educating the population and shaping public opinion (Hamilton 2004). Therefore, media bias remains an omnipresent concern for politicians and the public alike.

Multiple studies have found evidence of media bias in local news articles, but these have largely focused on election coverage.  The two articles that deviate from these are focused on media coverage of presidential visits and immigration issues in border towns.  My research, focused on media coverage of a seminal piece of legislation, deviates from the current literature in this respect. Additionally, much of what I have read uses content analysis, a technique that consists of reading and hand coding articles. This technique allows for more depth and discretion when labeling articles, but it also limits the number of articles that can be covered.  My sample of articles is much larger than that used in prior research on local media coverage and media bias.  Writing a literature review is a constantly evolving process, and so I anticipate continuing to revise it throughout the semester.


  1. I’ve been reading your posts, and they’re very insightful to the research process! I really like this post because it highlights something that we don’t normally realize: that literature reviews, of any sort in any discipline, influence how we read a text. That’s not to say it’s a bad thing. Most of us would be very lost in a sea of information without reviews; they guide us and show us what’s relevant. But that relevance is subjective and fueled by unseen factors such as personal bias, demographics, purpose of the piece itself, etc. It’s something I never really thought about before, how the review serves as a preliminary screening of information in the initial research process and can, if we’re not careful, limit what we see.