A literature review is a survey of published material on a given topic. It is not research on a topic; it is a review of others’ research on the topic. It is often, but not always, conducted as part of a larger academic work such as a thesis or dissertation.
The main purposes of a literature review are to:
There are four steps in conducting a literature review.
A literature review is like a self-contained critical review of a subject. Like other kinds of academic writing, a literature review consists of an introduction, a body and a conclusion.
The introduction should describe the key topics that will be discussed in the review and explain how the review is structured.
The body of a literature review should be organised into categories. These can be chronological (when they were published), moving from broad to specific, thematic or methodological, or whatever else seems appropriate. Each paragraph should deal with a different category and include a critical analysis and synthesis of the sources within that category.
The conclusion should summarise what has been discussed and identify which sources make the most significant contribution to the area of study, the gaps in the literature and how the gaps will be filled in your study.
As with any kind of academic writing, the completed literature review should be submitted to a professional academic editor for editing so that it will be of the highest standard.
Updated 08 October 2018