Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.
Purpose of a literature review
Your literature review is not an annotated bibliography or a research paper where you select resources to support one side of an issue versus another.
The literature review:
- Provides background to the research topic
- Demonstrates why a topic is significant in that area
- Identifies major themes, concepts and researchers in an area
- Helps focus your own work
- Discovers relationships between different research topics
- Suggests unexplored ideas or relationships
- Identifies critical gaps, disagreements, or poor methodology or theory
- Indicates directions for future research
Books on writing literature reviews
Classes and handout available
- Have you indicated the purpose of the review?
- Why did you include some of the literature and exclude others ?
- Have you emphasised recent developments?
- Is your bibliographic data complete?
- Is there a logic to the way you have organized your material?
- Does the amount of detail included on an issue relate to its importance?
- Have you been sufficiently critical of design and methodological issues?
- Have you indicated when results were conflicting or inconclusive and discussed possible reasons?