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Literature Review: Purpose of a Literature Review

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  • Purpose of a Literature Review
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  • Know the Difference! Systematic Review vs. Literature Review

The purpose of a literature review is to:

  • Provide a foundation of knowledge on a topic
  • Identify areas of prior scholarship to prevent duplication and give credit to other researchers
  • Identify inconstancies: gaps in research, conflicts in previous studies, open questions left from other research
  • Identify the need for additional research (justifying your research)
  • Identify the relationship of works in the context of their contribution to the topic and other works
  • Place your own research within the context of existing literature, making a case for why further study is needed.

Videos & Tutorials

VIDEO: What is the role of a literature review in research? What's it mean to "review" the literature? Get the big picture of what to expect as part of the process. This video is published under a Creative Commons 3.0 BY-NC-SA US license. License, credits, and contact information can be found here:

Elements in a Literature Review

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What is the aim of literature review

What is the aim of literature review


  • Definition of a written literature review document
  • Aims and goals for writing a literature review document
  • Disadvantages of writing a literature review document
  • Structure and components of a written literature review document 
  • Elements of a written literature review document
  • Steps to good assessment of a written literature reviews document      
  • Video :The Purpose of the Literature Review

 Definition of a written literature review document

The literature review document is a scholarly written document that describes, summarizes and evaluates some sources and study researches about a particular topic. These sources that a literature review document summarize must be related and around a particular topic. A written literature review document can be a part of thesis or dissertation.

Or a written literature review document can be a stand-alone written document. Sources and study researches that covered by a literature review can be books, websites, journals, government reports or others.

 Aims and goals for writing a literature review document 

Any written document is written for achieving some goals and aims.

So, the written literature review document has many aims and goals which are:

  • First aim/goal: the first goal is that the literature review determines what exist in the current research field for a particular topic.
  • Second aim/goal: the second goal is that a written literature review document collects many relevant sources. So, a written literature review document places each source in the context of understanding the particular topic.
  • Third aim/goal: the third goal is that the written literature review document describes the relationship between the collected sources. 
  • Fourth aim/goal: the fourth goal is that a literature review identifies the existing gaps in current sources and studies for further research. So, the written literature review document also identifies new way to interpret
  • Fifth aim/goal: the fifth goal is that the literature review tries to find new ways to step the further research forward.
  • Sixth aim/goal: the sixth goal is that the literature review identifies if there is a need to make additional researches

 Disadvantages of writing a literature review document 

In this paragraph, you will be deal with the disadvantages of the written literature review document:

  • The written literature review requires a good supervision from teacher specially when the students have a little bit of experience.
  • The student does not find enough sources for their literature review document or the sources have no certain information. So, the student lost their time to search for unnecessary sources.
  • The supervisors or teachers consume a lot of time to correct and provide a feedback about student’s literature review documents.

 Structure and components of a written literature review document 

Any literature review written document should include these major components/elements:

  • First basic component: the objective/goal of a written literature review document

The objective/goal of a literature review describes the purpose/goals to write your literature review document.

And also, state clearly the goals and objective of your written literature review document.

  • Second basic component: an overview of subject in a written literature review document

In the second component of written literature review document, you have to provide an overview of the subject/topic. Topics that you consider in your written literature review document.

So, give an overview for a topic of research and what prompted it.

  • Third basic component: sources categorization

Here in the third component, you have to categorize your sources in a written literature review document. These sources can be categorized and grouped according to three or many ways which are historical, chronological or thematically approaches.  

  • Fourth basic component: an organization of subtopics

Organize your subtopics in your written literature review by starting with the most significant topic and going to the least significant topic. That’s mean you should group your topic in logical order. That’s in order to make your written literature review document more reliable and understandable by others.

  • Fifth basic component: discussion

Discussion is the fifth basic component of literature review written document. What you should to do is to provide an analysis of each source uniqueness and each source similarities with the other sources.

  • Sixth basic component: conclusion

Conclusion is the sixth and last basic component of the written literature review document.

And in the conclusion part, you provide a summary of your analysis and evaluation of the reviewed work in your topic of research.

 Elements of a written literature review document 

The major elements for a written literature review are:

  • Identification the existing gap in the current researches and studies on a particular topic.
  • Discovering the available information in studies and researches on a particular topic.
  • Identification the relationship between the sources of the researches and theories on a particular topic.
  • Making literature review provide you with a context of your research on a particular topic.
  • Noting the main methodologies and techniques in researches and studies on a particular topic.
  • Finding differences and similarities in researches and studies on a particular topic.
  • Located the formative works in the field of researches and studies on a particular topic.  

 Steps to good assessment of a written literature reviews document 

Usually, the assessment process done by supervisors or teachers to evaluate their students writing literature review documents. To make a good assessment of written literature review documents, follow these steps to ensure you assets literature reviews correctly:

  • Be sure that the students exactly know the primary objective of writing a literature review document.
  • Determine as a supervisor or a teacher the number of words (length of literature review) should a literature reviews contain.
  • Explain for your students that a literature review in not just a summary of collected sources.
  • Ensure that you provide for your students a clear assessment criteria and how correcting the scheme. Which the correcting scheme include grammar, spelling and other related issues.
  • Be sure that your students know how to reference a piece of text and they understand the meaning of plagiarism.
  • Teachers and supervisors should determine if they assets the quality of sources used in writing literature review documents.
  • Teachers and supervisors know that writing literature review documents need practice. According to this point, they can give their students small subjects to review and then give them larger subject to review.

How it is benefits to conduct a literature review?

It is very important to conduct a written literature review document. Conducting a written literature review document can get these goals:

  • First goal of conducting written literature review documents:

Conducting written literature reviews will provide you with an estimation about the current state about a specific topic.

  • Second goal of conducting written literature review documents

Another goal to conduct written literature review documents is to enable you to identify the experts on a particular topic. That’s happen when making literature about a particular topic and search for source. In this case you will know what writers write more than others on a particular topic. Those writers are almost the experts for writing in a particular topic.

  • Third goal of conducting written literature review documents

Goal three is about the topics that need more further of research.

So, with this goal you will identify the significant questions on a topic that need more research. When you write a literature document, you may discover new subjects that did not cover by other researchers. This done by review what is already exists in the current written literature review documents.

  • Fourth goal of conducting written literature review documents

Final and fourth goal of written literature review documents is about methodologies. By reviewing many literature documents, you can determine which methodologies used in previous studies for a particular topic or studies documents in similar topics.  

 Video :The Purpose of the Literature Review 

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Literature Review

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The purpose of a literature review is to collect relevant, timely research on your chosen topic, and synthesize it into a cohesive summary of existing knowledge in the field. This then prepares you for making your own argument on that topic, or for conducting your own original research.

Depending on your field of study, literature reviews can take different forms. Some disciplines require that you synthesize your sources topically, organizing your paragraphs according to how your different sources discuss similar topics. Other disciplines require that you discuss each source in individual paragraphs, covering various aspects in that single article, chapter, or book.

Within your review of a given source, you can cover many different aspects, including (if a research study) the purpose, scope, methods, results, any discussion points, limitations, and implications for future research. Make sure you know which model your professor expects you to follow when writing your own literature reviews.

Tip : Literature reviews may or may not be a graded component of your class or major assignment, but even if it is not, it is a good idea to draft one so that you know the current conversations taking place on your chosen topic. It can better prepare you to write your own, unique argument.

Benefits of Literature Reviews

  • Literature reviews allow you to gain familiarity with the current knowledge in your chosen field, as well as the boundaries and limitations of that field.
  • Literature reviews also help you to gain an understanding of the theory(ies) driving the field, allowing you to place your research question into context.
  • Literature reviews provide an opportunity for you to see and even evaluate successful and unsuccessful assessment and research methods in your field.
  • Literature reviews prevent you from duplicating the same information as others writing in your field, allowing you to find your own, unique approach to your topic.
  • Literature reviews give you familiarity with the knowledge in your field, giving you the chance to analyze the significance of your additional research.

Choosing Your Sources

When selecting your sources to compile your literature review, make sure you follow these guidelines to ensure you are working with the strongest, most appropriate sources possible.

Topically Relevant

Find sources within the scope of your topic

Appropriately Aged

Find sources that are not too old for your assignment

Find sources whose authors have authority on your topic

Appropriately “Published”

Find sources that meet your instructor’s guidelines (academic, professional, print, etc.)

Tip:  Treat your professors and librarians as experts you can turn to for advice on how to locate sources. They are a valuable asset to you, so take advantage of them!

Organizing Your Literature Review

Synthesizing topically.

Some assignments require discussing your sources together, in paragraphs organized according to shared topics between them.

For example, in a literature review covering current conversations on Alison Bechdel’s  Fun Home , authors may discuss various topics including:

  • her graphic style
  • her allusions to various literary texts
  • her story’s implications regarding LGBT experiences in 20 th  century America.

In this case, you would cluster your sources on these three topics. One paragraph would cover how the sources you collected dealt with Bechdel’s graphic style. Another, her allusions. A third, her implications.

Each of these paragraphs would discuss how the sources you found treated these topics in connection to one another. Basically, you compare and contrast how your sources discuss similar issues and points.

To determine these shared topics, examine aspects including:

  • Definition of terms
  • Common ground
  • Issues that divide
  • Rhetorical context

Summarizing Individually

Depending on the assignment, your professor may prefer that you discuss each source in your literature review individually (in their own, separate paragraphs or sections). Your professor may give you specific guidelines as far as what to cover in these paragraphs/sections.

If, for instance, your sources are all primary research studies, here are some aspects to consider covering:

  • Participants
  • Limitations
  • Implications
  • Significance

Each section of your literature review, in this case, will identify all of these elements for each individual article.

You may or may not need to separate your information into multiple paragraphs for each source. If you do, using proper headings in the appropriate citation style (APA, MLA, etc.) will help keep you organized.

If you are writing a literature review as part of a larger assignment, you generally do not need an introduction and/or conclusion, because it is embedded within the context of your larger paper.

If, however, your literature review is a standalone assignment, it is a good idea to include some sort of introduction and conclusion to provide your reader with context regarding your topic, purpose, and any relevant implications or further questions. Make sure you know what your professor is expecting for your literature review’s content.

Typically, a literature review concludes with a full bibliography of your included sources. Make sure you use the style guide required by your professor for this assignment. no longer supports Internet Explorer.

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Learning how to effectively write a literature review is a critical tool for success for an academic, and perhaps even professional career. Being able to summarize and synthesize prior research pertaining to a certain topic not only demonstrates having a good grasp on available information for a topic, but it also assists in the learning process. Although literature reviews are important for one's academic career, they are often misunderstood and underdeveloped. This article is intended to provide both undergraduate and graduate students in the criminal justice field specifically, and social sciences more generally, skills and perspectives on how to develop and/or strengthen their skills in writing a literature review. Included in this discussion are foci on the structure , process, and art of writing a literature review. What is a Literature Review? In essence, a literature review is a comprehensive overview of prior research regarding a specific topic. The overview both shows the reader what is known about a topic, and what is not yet known, thereby setting up the rationale or need for a new investigation, which is what the actual study to which the literature review is attached seeks to do. Stated a bit differently (Creswell 1994, pp. 20, 21) explains: The literature in a research study accomplishes several purposes: (a) It shares with the reader the results of other studies that are closely related to the study being reported (Fraenkel & Wallen, 1990. (b) It relates a study to the larger, ongoing dialog in the literature about a topic, filling in gaps and extending prior studies (Marshall & Rossman, 1989). (c) It provides a framework for establishing the importance of the study. As an overview, a well done literature review includes all of the main themes and subthemes found within the general topic chosen for the study. These themes and subthemes are usually interwoven with the methods or findings of the prior research. Also, a literature review sets the stage for and JOURNAL

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Dr Arvind M Nawale

2018, LangLit: An International Peer-Reviewed Open Access Journal

Research is a study to find answers and solutions to scientific, social and literary problems through a systematic way. It is a cautious, orderly and patient investigation in any field of knowledge undertaken to form facts or principles. It is a well-thought-out inquiry that uses an acceptable specific methodology to gather, analyze and interpret information in order to resolve problems or answer questions and, in general, to create new knowledge. It can therefore simply be defined as a journey leading to the finding of new knowledge with the revision of evidence, theories and applications. Any research work undertaken must make an innovative contribution to the current information in the applicable discipline. In research, whatever the focus may be, the study must be an industrious and systematic investigation with proper methods for the discovery, analysis or updating of data for the application of research findings to refine knowledge in chosen subjects or disciplines. In research, the research methodology must be complemented by proper stylesheets for formatting in-text citations, works cited/end notes/footnotes and bibliography and a literature review must be carried out. In a serious academic research, methodology, style-sheets and review of literature have utmost importance.


International Journal of P R O F E S S I O N A L Business Review

With a view to examining the entire proposed structure for an empirical article, this editorial focuses on the Literature Review, also known as the Theoretical Framework. The literature review may be defined as “a documented review of published or unpublished works (articles, books, etc.) in specific fields of interest to the work of the researcher” (Ferreira, 2015: 36). It is to be found in conceptual articles such as empirical articles, whether qualitative or quantitative. It has a clear link to the article as a whole and provides support for the section on the development of the concept and the hypotheses/propositions that follow it in the structure of an empirical article.

Constructing a Literature Review

Bob mweetwa

research proposal as a problem to investigate, it usually has to be fairly narrow and focused, and because of this it can be difficult to appreciate how one's research subject is connected to other related areas. Therefore, the overall purpose of a literature review is to demonstrate this, and to help the reader to understand how your study fits into a broader context. This paper seeks to examine this topic of literature review, its significance and role in research proposal and report. It will start by explaining in detail what literature is; by citation of different scholars and its constituent components, such as the theoretical framework. Thereafter, it will look at the importance of literature review and its role in research proposals and reports. Finally, a conclusion will be written based on this topic. A Literature Review is a critical review of existing knowledge on areas such as theories, critiques, methodologies, research findings, assessment and evaluations on a particular topic. A literature review involves a critical evaluation identifying similarities and differences between existing literatures and the work being undertaken. It reviews what have already been done in the context of a topic. Therefore, on the basis of the existing knowledge, people can build up innovative idea and concept for further research purpose (Cooper, 1998). In doing empirical literature review is reading reports of other relevant studies conducted by different researchers. In doing so, a researcher gets knowledge and experiences that were established by other researchers when conducting their studies. While Conceptual framework is a set of coherent ideas or concepts organised in a manner that makes them easy to communicate to others. It represents less formal structure and used for specific concepts and propositions derived from empirical observation and intuition (ibid). According Aveyard, H. (2010) Theoretical framework is a theoretical perspective. It can be simply a theory, but can also be more general a basic approach to understanding something. Typically, a theoretical framework consists of concepts, together with their definitions, and existing framework must demonstrate an understanding of theories, and existing framework demonstrate an understanding of theories and concepts that are relevant to the topic of your research proposal and that will relate it to the broader fields of knowledge in the class you are taking.

Importance of Literature Review

Zheng Huang

Conducting a Literature Review Conducting a Literature Review

Nicole Albrecht

In this PowerPoint I provide guidelines for writing a literature review.

Tips for Writing a Literature Review

2004, The Real Life Guide to Accounting Research

Requirements and Understandings for Publishing Academic Research: An Insider View

Johannes C Cronje

A collection of stuff about literature surveys

Helle Neergaard

How to Get Published in the Best Entrepreneurship Journals

Moving from the periphery to the inner circle: getting published from your thesis

Oluwatobi Balogun

2019, Global Journal of Artificial Intelligence

Research has over time played a pivotal role in mankind's quest for knowledge and technological advancement. In all spheres of human existence, research and its further application have over time been able to show the obvious, and yet sometimes hidden unity of science and the philosophical and sociological settings in which everything operates. Essentially, research has helped man to explore once thought of as bizarre phenomena and afforded man the opportunity to draw a fine line between opinions and facts towards gaining maximum benefits from the research's orientation (Williams, 2007). Too frequently, research is viewed as a formalized process of applying a rigid sequence of steps to the solution to a problem but in actual fact, research in itself entails flexibility in order to maximize scientific methods. This paper explains the concept of literature review in research and how a literature review is done in other to enhance the quality of the research work produced. ABSTRACT 1

Understanding the Literature Review

Sidney Hurt

Writing & Research Literature Reviews and Systematic Reviews: What Is the Difference

Vikash Mishra

the aims of this paper is content analysis of Knowledge management.

Literature Review Definition and introduction of literature review

Irma Sánchez

The essential guide to doing research

selorm kuffour

A literature review must be coherent, systematic and clear. The review of literature must stick to answering the research question and also there must be a justification of every argument using extracts and illustrations. It is essential that all sources used in the literature review are properly recorded and referenced appropriately to avoid the incidence of plagiarism. Finally the work must be proof-read. It is also worth noting that literature review is not producing a list of items. Also it is essential that the contents of the literature to be reviewed are well read and also spelling mistakes or wrong dates of publication are avoided.


KMB Electricals & Plumbing

Writing a Psychology Literature Review

Taco Brandsen

2021, Voluntas

How to Get Published: Practical Advice

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Frequently asked questions

What is the purpose of a literature review.

There are several reasons to conduct a literature review at the beginning of a research project:

  • To familiarize yourself with the current state of knowledge on your topic
  • To ensure that you’re not just repeating what others have already done
  • To identify gaps in knowledge and unresolved problems that your research can address
  • To develop your theoretical framework and methodology
  • To provide an overview of the key findings and debates on the topic

Writing the literature review shows your reader how your work relates to existing research and what new insights it will contribute.

Frequently asked questions: Academic writing

A rhetorical tautology is the repetition of an idea of concept using different words.

Rhetorical tautologies occur when additional words are used to convey a meaning that has already been expressed or implied. For example, the phrase “armed gunman” is a tautology because a “gunman” is by definition “armed.”

A logical tautology is a statement that is always true because it includes all logical possibilities.

Logical tautologies often take the form of “either/or” statements (e.g., “It will rain, or it will not rain”) or employ circular reasoning (e.g., “she is untrustworthy because she can’t be trusted”).

You may have seen both “appendices” or “appendixes” as pluralizations of “ appendix .” Either spelling can be used, but “appendices” is more common (including in APA Style ). Consistency is key here: make sure you use the same spelling throughout your paper.

The purpose of a lab report is to demonstrate your understanding of the scientific method with a hands-on lab experiment. Course instructors will often provide you with an experimental design and procedure. Your task is to write up how you actually performed the experiment and evaluate the outcome.

In contrast, a research paper requires you to independently develop an original argument. It involves more in-depth research and interpretation of sources and data.

A lab report is usually shorter than a research paper.

The sections of a lab report can vary between scientific fields and course requirements, but it usually contains the following:

  • Title: expresses the topic of your study
  • Abstract: summarizes your research aims, methods, results, and conclusions
  • Introduction: establishes the context needed to understand the topic
  • Method: describes the materials and procedures used in the experiment
  • Results: reports all descriptive and inferential statistical analyses
  • Discussion: interprets and evaluates results and identifies limitations
  • Conclusion: sums up the main findings of your experiment
  • References: list of all sources cited using a specific style (e.g. APA)
  • Appendices: contains lengthy materials, procedures, tables or figures

A lab report conveys the aim, methods, results, and conclusions of a scientific experiment . Lab reports are commonly assigned in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields.

The abstract is the very last thing you write. You should only write it after your research is complete, so that you can accurately summarize the entirety of your thesis , dissertation or research paper .

If you’ve gone over the word limit set for your assignment, shorten your sentences and cut repetition and redundancy during the editing process. If you use a lot of long quotes , consider shortening them to just the essentials.

If you need to remove a lot of words, you may have to cut certain passages. Remember that everything in the text should be there to support your argument; look for any information that’s not essential to your point and remove it.

To make this process easier and faster, you can use a paraphrasing tool . With this tool, you can rewrite your text to make it simpler and shorter. If that’s not enough, you can copy-paste your paraphrased text into the summarizer . This tool will distill your text to its core message.

Revising, proofreading, and editing are different stages of the writing process .

  • Revising is making structural and logical changes to your text—reformulating arguments and reordering information.
  • Editing refers to making more local changes to things like sentence structure and phrasing to make sure your meaning is conveyed clearly and concisely.
  • Proofreading involves looking at the text closely, line by line, to spot any typos and issues with consistency and correct them.

The literature review usually comes near the beginning of your thesis or dissertation . After the introduction , it grounds your research in a scholarly field and leads directly to your theoretical framework or methodology .

A literature review is a survey of scholarly sources (such as books, journal articles, and theses) related to a specific topic or research question .

It is often written as part of a thesis, dissertation , or research paper , in order to situate your work in relation to existing knowledge.

Avoid citing sources in your abstract . There are two reasons for this:

  • The abstract should focus on your original research, not on the work of others.
  • The abstract should be self-contained and fully understandable without reference to other sources.

There are some circumstances where you might need to mention other sources in an abstract: for example, if your research responds directly to another study or focuses on the work of a single theorist. In general, though, don’t include citations unless absolutely necessary.

An abstract is a concise summary of an academic text (such as a journal article or dissertation ). It serves two main purposes:

  • To help potential readers determine the relevance of your paper for their own research.
  • To communicate your key findings to those who don’t have time to read the whole paper.

Abstracts are often indexed along with keywords on academic databases, so they make your work more easily findable. Since the abstract is the first thing any reader sees, it’s important that it clearly and accurately summarizes the contents of your paper.

In a scientific paper, the methodology always comes after the introduction and before the results , discussion and conclusion . The same basic structure also applies to a thesis, dissertation , or research proposal .

Depending on the length and type of document, you might also include a literature review or theoretical framework before the methodology.

Whether you’re publishing a blog, submitting a research paper , or even just writing an important email, there are a few techniques you can use to make sure it’s error-free:

  • Take a break : Set your work aside for at least a few hours so that you can look at it with fresh eyes.
  • Proofread a printout : Staring at a screen for too long can cause fatigue – sit down with a pen and paper to check the final version.
  • Use digital shortcuts : Take note of any recurring mistakes (for example, misspelling a particular word, switching between US and UK English , or inconsistently capitalizing a term), and use Find and Replace to fix it throughout the document.

If you want to be confident that an important text is error-free, it might be worth choosing a professional proofreading service instead.

Editing and proofreading are different steps in the process of revising a text.

Editing comes first, and can involve major changes to content, structure and language. The first stages of editing are often done by authors themselves, while a professional editor makes the final improvements to grammar and style (for example, by improving sentence structure and word choice ).

Proofreading is the final stage of checking a text before it is published or shared. It focuses on correcting minor errors and inconsistencies (for example, in punctuation and capitalization ). Proofreaders often also check for formatting issues, especially in print publishing.

The cost of proofreading depends on the type and length of text, the turnaround time, and the level of services required. Most proofreading companies charge per word or page, while freelancers sometimes charge an hourly rate.

For proofreading alone, which involves only basic corrections of typos and formatting mistakes, you might pay as little as $0.01 per word, but in many cases, your text will also require some level of editing , which costs slightly more.

It’s often possible to purchase combined proofreading and editing services and calculate the price in advance based on your requirements.

There are many different routes to becoming a professional proofreader or editor. The necessary qualifications depend on the field – to be an academic or scientific proofreader, for example, you will need at least a university degree in a relevant subject.

For most proofreading jobs, experience and demonstrated skills are more important than specific qualifications. Often your skills will be tested as part of the application process.

To learn practical proofreading skills, you can choose to take a course with a professional organization such as the Society for Editors and Proofreaders . Alternatively, you can apply to companies that offer specialized on-the-job training programmes, such as the Scribbr Academy .

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You can find all the citation styles and locales used in the Scribbr Citation Generator in our publicly accessible repository on Github .

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Literature review

A general guide on how to conduct and write a literature review.

Please check course or programme information and materials provided by teaching staff , including your project supervisor, for subject-specific guidance.

What is a literature review?

A literature review is a piece of academic writing demonstrating knowledge and understanding of the academic literature on a specific topic placed in context.  A literature review also includes a critical evaluation of the material; this is why it is called a literature review rather than a literature report. It is a process of reviewing the literature, as well as a form of writing.

To illustrate the difference between reporting and reviewing, think about television or film review articles.  These articles include content such as a brief synopsis or the key points of the film or programme plus the critic’s own evaluation.  Similarly the two main objectives of a literature review are firstly the content covering existing research, theories and evidence, and secondly your own critical evaluation and discussion of this content. 

Usually a literature review forms a section or part of a dissertation, research project or long essay.  However, it can also be set and assessed as a standalone piece of work.

What is the purpose of a literature review?

…your task is to build an argument, not a library. Rudestam, K.E. and Newton, R.R. (1992) Surviving your dissertation: A comprehensive guide to content and process. California: Sage, p49.

In a larger piece of written work, such as a dissertation or project, a literature review is usually one of the first tasks carried out after deciding on a topic.  Reading combined with critical analysis can help to refine a topic and frame research questions.  Conducting a literature review establishes your familiarity with and understanding of current research in a particular field before carrying out a new investigation.  After doing a literature review, you should know what research has already been done and be able to identify what is unknown within your topic.

When doing and writing a literature review, it is good practice to:

  • summarise and analyse previous research and theories;
  • identify areas of controversy and contested claims;
  • highlight any gaps that may exist in research to date.

Conducting a literature review

Focusing on different aspects of your literature review can be useful to help plan, develop, refine and write it.  You can use and adapt the prompt questions in our worksheet below at different points in the process of researching and writing your review.  These are suggestions to get you thinking and writing.

Developing and refining your literature review (pdf)

Developing and refining your literature review (Word)

Developing and refining your literature review (Word rtf)

Writing a literature review has a lot in common with other assignment tasks.  There is advice on our other pages about thinking critically, reading strategies and academic writing.  Our literature review top tips suggest some specific things you can do to help you submit a successful review.

Literature review top tips (pdf)

Literature review top tips (Word rtf)

Our reading page includes strategies and advice on using books and articles and a notes record sheet grid you can use.

Reading at university

The Academic writing page suggests ways to organise and structure information from a range of sources and how you can develop your argument as you read and write.

Academic writing

The Critical thinking page has advice on how to be a more critical researcher and a form you can use to help you think and break down the stages of developing your argument.

Critical thinking

As with other forms of academic writing, your literature review needs to demonstrate good academic practice by following the Code of Student Conduct and acknowledging the work of others through citing and referencing your sources.  

Good academic practice

As with any writing task, you will need to review, edit and rewrite sections of your literature review.  The Editing and proofreading page includes tips on how to do this and strategies for standing back and thinking about your structure and checking the flow of your argument.

Editing and proofreading

Guidance on literature searching from the University Library

The Academic Support Librarians have developed LibSmart I and II, Learn courses to help you develop and enhance your digital research skills and capabilities; from getting started with the Library to managing data for your dissertation.

Searching using the library’s DiscoverEd tool: DiscoverEd

Finding resources in your subject: Subject guides

The Academic Support Librarians also provide one-to-one appointments to help you develop your research strategies.

1 to 1 support for literature searching and systematic reviews

Advice to help you optimise use of Google Scholar, Google Books and Google for your research and study: Using Google

Managing and curating your references

A referencing management tool can help you to collect and organise and your source material to produce a bibliography or reference list. 

Referencing and reference management

Information Services provide access to Cite them right online which is a guide to the main referencing systems and tells you how to reference just about any source (EASE log-in may be required).

Cite them right

Published study guides

There are a number of scholarship skills books and guides available which can help with writing a literature review.  Our Resource List of study skills guides includes sections on Referencing, Dissertation and project writing and Literature reviews.

Study skills guides

Reference management. Clean and simple.

What is a literature review? [with examples]

Literature review explained

  • What is a literature review?

A literature review is an assessment of the sources in a chosen topic of research.

In a literature review, you’re expected to report on the existing scholarly conversation, without adding new contributions.

If you are currently writing one, you've come to the right place. In the following paragraphs, we will explain:

  • the objective of a literature review
  • how to write a literature review
  • the basic format of a literature review

Tip: It’s not always mandatory to add a literature review in a paper. Theses and dissertations often include them, whereas research papers may not. Make sure to consult with your instructor for exact requirements.

  • The purpose of a literature review

The four main objectives of a literature review are:

  • Studying the references of your research area
  • Summarizing the main arguments
  • Identifying current gaps, stances, and issues
  • Presenting all of the above in a text

Ultimately, the main goal of a literature review is to provide the researcher with sufficient knowledge about the topic in question so that they can eventually make an intervention.

  • How to write a literature review

The format of a literature review is fairly standard. It includes an:

  • introduction that briefly introduces the main topic
  • body that includes the main discussion of the key arguments
  • conclusion that highlights the gaps and issues of the literature

➡️ Take a look at our guide on how to write a literature review to learn more about how to structure a literature review.

  • The format of a literature review

General formatting rules

First of all, a literature review should have its own labeled section. You should indicate clearly in the table of contents where the literature can be found, and you should label this section as “Literature Review.”

➡️ For more information on writing a thesis, visit our guide on how to structure a thesis .

The length of a literature review

There is no set amount of words for a literature review, so the length depends on the research. If you are working with a large amount of sources, it will be long. If your paper does not depend entirely on references, it will be short.

  • Literature review examples

Take a look at these three theses featuring great literature reviews:

  • School-Based Speech-Language Pathologist's Perceptions of Sensory Food Aversions in Children [ PDF , see page 20]
  • Who's Writing What We Read: Authorship in Criminological Research [ PDF , see page 4]
  • A Phenomenological Study of the Lived Experience of Online Instructors of Theological Reflection at Christian Institutions Accredited by the Association of Theological Schools [ PDF , see page 56]
  • Frequently Asked Questions about literature reviews

Literature reviews are most commonly found in theses and dissertations. However, you find them in research papers as well.

There is no set amount of words for a literature review, so the length depends on the research. If you are working with a large amount of sources, then it will be long. If your paper does not depend entirely on references, then it will be short.

No. A literature review should have its own independent section. You should indicate clearly in the table of contents where the literature review can be found, and label this section as “Literature Review.”

The main goal of a literature review is to provide the researcher with sufficient knowledge about the topic in question so that they can eventually make an intervention.

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Objectives of review of literature, tidak ada komentar:, posting komentar.


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