Writing a Literature Review

Research and Instruction Librarian

Profile Photo
Kate Flower

What is a Literature Review?

A literature review is an account of what has been published on a topic by accredited scholars and researchers. [...] 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 a guiding concept (e.g., your research objective, the problem or issue you are discussing, or your argumentative thesis). It is not just a descriptive list of the material available, or a set of summaries.

(from The Literature Review: A Few Tips on Writing It)

The Purpose of the Literature Review is to:

  • Set the background on what has been researched on a topic.
  • Show why a topic is significant to a subject area.
  • Discover relationships between ideas.
  • Identify major themes & concepts.
  • Identify critical gaps & points of disagreement.
  • Help the researcher turn a network of articles into a coherent view of the literature.

Your professor will establish guidelines for writing a literature review. The following video, Literature Review: An Overview for Graduate Students, by North Caroline State University Libraries is an excellent starting point.  It discusses what iliterature reviewis, how to review the literature and steps in writing a literature review. (10 minutes) Transcript of this video

This video is published under a Creative Commons 3.0 BY-NC-SA US license. License, credits, and contact information can be found here: https://www.lib.ncsu.edu/tutorials/litreview/

Writing A Literature Review?

Below are some sites about writing literature reviews.