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How to write a Literature Review: Home

A guide to writing a literature review.

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What is a literature review

A literature review is a critical evaluation of what has been published on a topic by accredited scholars and researchers.  In other words literature reviews are secondary sources, and as such, do not report any new or original experimental work.  Thus, a literature review is not descriptive but analytical in nature. 

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It is important, however, that you select your sources carefully as you do not have to include everything that you have read on a topic. You must concentrate on publications that have influenced the field you are writing about. Ensure that you use publications that are written by reputable authors.

"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" (Taylor, D. n.d.).

 Source: Taylor D. (n.d.) The Literature review: a few tips on conducting it.

Literature review - questions to ask yourself

Doing a literature review
Some of the questions a review of the literature can answer

Source: Hart, C. 1998.
Doing a literature review: releasing the social science research imagination. 
London: Sage, p14
300.72 HART