Writing a Literature Review
The module will explore literature reviews including their structure, purpose, scope, and focus.
- Describe the purpose of a literature review.
- Compare and contrast literature reviews and other types of research writing.
- Explain the scope and focus of a literature review.
A literature review is an evaluative report of the literature relating to a particular research topic. The literature review is more than just a summary of the current literature. The literature review should describe, summarize, evaluate, and clarify the literature. It should provide the foundation and support the new insight that additional research could provide. The literature reviewed is most commonly journals, scholarly books, and databases. However, it may include newspaper articles, magazines, other books, films, audio, video, and other secondary sources. The purpose of a literature review is to:
- Establish a framework for the topic or subject
- Define key words and terminology
- Identify studies, case studies and models that support the research topic
- Provide a chronology or progression of the knowledge on the subject
- Identify and articulate relationships in the research and with the proposed projects
- May provide a new interpretation of previously published literature
- Illustrate how the subject has been studied previously (methodology)
- Highlight flaws in the research and identify gaps
- Describe where the proposed research will fit in the current body of knowledge
- Help define and establish the area of research
Strategies and Tips for Writing a Literature Review
- Start with research overviews, review and map references
- Search for key authors who have contributed to the topic
- Make strategic use of journal indexes and advanced search engine capabilities
- Record key definitions and their context/take good notes
- May need to re-evaluate question or topic if finding too many resources (too broad) or too few (too narrow)
- Use current sources
- Review other literature reviews that have been done on the subject
- Decide on an organizational strategy - examples include chronological, thematic, methodological
- Use quotes sparingly and keep your own voice
- Writing should be clear and concise