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Library Subject Guides

2. Find & Manage Research Literature: Lit Review

A guide to finding and managing your literature

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

Academic Skills Centre offer classes on Writing a Literature Review

Literature Review handout (ASC)

Final Checklist

  • 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?