What is a review of
A literature review is an account of
what has been published on a topic by accredited scholars and researchers. It
is often a part of the introduction to an essay, research report, or thesis.
In writing the literature review, your purpose is to convey to your reader
what knowledge and ideas have been established on a topic, and what their
strengths and weaknesses are. As a piece of writing, the literature review
must be defined by your research question. Besides
enlarging your knowledge about the topic, writing a literature review lets
you gain and demonstrate skills in two areas
- information seeking: the ability
to scan the literature efficiently, using manual or computerized
methods, to identify a set of useful articles and books
- critical evaluation: the ability
to apply principles of analysis to identify unbiased and valid studies.
A literature review must do these
- be organized around and related directly to the research question you are developing
- synthesize results into a summary of what is and is
- identify areas of controversy in the literature
- formulate questions that need further research
questions like these:
- What is the specific focus or research
question that my literature review helps to define?
- What type of literature review am I
conducting? Am I looking at issues of theory? methodology? policy?
- What is the scope of my literature review?
What types of publications am I using (e.g., journals, books, government
documents, popular media)? What discipline am I working in (e.g., leadership,
- How good was my information seeking? Has my
search been wide enough to ensure I've found all the relevant material?
Has it been narrow enough to exclude irrelevant material? Is the number
of sources I've used appropriate for the length of my paper?
- Have I critically analyzed the literature I
use? Do I follow through a set of concepts and questions, comparing
items to each other in the ways they deal with them? Instead of just
listing and summarizing items, do I assess them, discussing strengths
- Have I cited and discussed studies contrary to
- Will the reader find my literature review relevant,
appropriate, and useful?
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