Writing a literature review is a process. The steps outlined in this guide are meant to make the process more manageable. You'll find
- Background information (encyclopedias, books, overviews)
- Tips on refining a topic and defining the scope of the review
- Where to find articles, dissertations, reports, and books to include
- Tools to help you keep track of your searching and finding
- How to evaluate the literature
- Tips on organizing the review
- Approaches to writing the review
- Tools to help you cite sources correctly
What is a Literature Review?
A literature review is an overview or discussion of existing literature on a particular topic. The literature may come from books, articles, reports, or other formats.
It's a review because it usually contains a summary, synthesis, or analysis of the central arguments in the existing literature. A literature review does not present an original argument, but instead presents the arguments of others in a different context.
In research articles with a narrow focus, the literature review may form a brief introductory section. In theses, dissertations, or articles with a broad focus, the literature review may be a lengthy discussion of all relevant research.
A literature review can serve any of several purposes. It can ...
- summarize the existing research on a particular topic
- introduce the important research on a topic
- point out contradictory or controversial studies or methodologies
- raise a question or highlight an issue for further study
- help to contextualize the current research