How to write a literary research paper: clarifying odd things


If you are writing a literary research paper, and you don’t quite know where to start, consider the following:


A literary research paper is one that provides a review and background on a subject. The subject is the research, and the literature you review is literature related to the subject. The purpose of the analysis is to show the reader what research has already been completed on the topic and to prompt questions in the mind of the reader that you will answer in the rest of the paper.

Because there is already research related to the topic you choose, your purpose is to build on the discoveries that have already been made in the field. So your paper needs to cover the research already done, and show the need for further research. In a sense, the literary research paper will provide a summary of previous research and a critique of it.

One odd thing that many students struggle with is the number of sources they need for the literary paper. The answer to this is contingent upon the number of pages required for your paper.

  • If your paper requires 20 pages or less, you will need between 5 and 10 sources
  • If your paper requires 20 to 30 pages, you will need between 10 and 15 sources
  • If your paper requires 30 to 40 pages, you will need between 15 and 20 sources
  • If your paper requires 40 to 50 pages, you will need between 20 and 30 sources
  • If your paper is 50 pages or more, you need at least 25 sources

Now comes the research. In order to write a literary paper you need to review relevant materials related to the topic. So what are the best sources to use?

  • Conduct generic searches via Google Scholar. This will ensure all of the results are scholarly articles that are peer-reviewed
  • JSTOR is a popular student site that is perfect for academics. You can search for keywords or phrases related to your topic and find relevant academic, and peer-reviewed work.
  • INFOMINE is another source you can use to conduct general searches for relevant information.

Doing all of this will help you to write the perfect literary research analysis. Be sure to cite your sources properly and use whatever format is required by your teacher or professor.

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