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Literature Review: Home

What is a Literature Review?

Good scholarship involves:

  • Connecting ideas, theories, experience
  • Applying method/methodology to different areas
  • Creating new synthesis or insight
  • Re-examining existing knowledge

An essential means toward this end is the literature review. The review is the foundation for the research:

“A literature review is an objective, thorough summary and critical analysis of the relevant available research and non-research literature on the topic being studied.” (Cronin, Ryan, & Coughlan, 2008)

The purpose of the literature review is to:

  • Demonstrate skills in library searching
  • Show command of the subject area and understanding of the problem
  • Justify the research topic, design and methodology
  • Bring the reader up-to-date with current literature on a topic
  • Justification for future research in the area

Other reasons for conducting a literature review:

  • Assignment for an academic course
  • Update current personal knowledge
  • Evaluate current practices
  • Develop and update guidelines for practice
  • Develop work-related policies
  • Develop a theory or conceptual framework
  • Update curricula

What makes a good literature review?

  • Gathers from many sources
  • It is well written
  • Contains few if any personal biases
  • Contain a clear search and selection strategy
  • Good structuring to enhance the flow and readability
  • Accurate use of terminology
  • Jargon kept to a minimum
  • Accurate referencing

What about literature searching?

A literature search addresses:

  • Key sources
  • Key issues
  • Key theories, concepts, ideas
  • Main questions/problems
  • Political issues
  • Origins and definitions
  • Structure/organization of knowledge
  • Effects of approaches used

Literature searching requires:

  • Defining topics for exploration
  • Acquiring skills for searching and retrieval
  • Ability to analyze and synthesize data
  • Writing and reporting skills (under time constraints)


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Reporting Standards