What is a literature review?
A literature review is not research, it is a review of the research that has been done on your topic.
A literature review is NOT just a summary, but a conceptually organized synthesis of the results of your search. It must
- organize information and relate it to the thesis or research question you are developing
- synthesize and critically analyze the results comparing and contrasting their findings
- identify controversy and themes that appear in the literature
A literature review is a piece of discursive prose, not a list describing or summarizing one piece of literature after another. It's usually a bad sign to see every paragraph beginning with the name of a researcher. Instead, organize the literature review into sections that present themes or identify trends, including relevant theory. You are not trying to list all the material published, but to synthesize and evaluate it according to the guiding concept of your thesis or research question. (From Univ. of Toronto)
Check out these sites for more help understanding literature reviews
- How to ... Write a Literature Review, UC Santa Cruz Library
- The Literature Review: A few tips on conducting it, University of Toronto
- How to do a Literature Review, North Carolina A&T State University
Tips on conducting research for a literature review
- Use bibliographies and reference pages of articles to direct your research. You may start to see some trends with the people who are writing about your topic. Check the bibliography for more articles about your topic.
- Use the authors who you have found to be writing on your topic as starting points. Look for additional articles, and rebuttals, retractions or responses to their research
Use this chart to track articles you read for your literature review: