This guide provides an overview of the literature review and its place in a research project, thesis, or dissertation, and demonstrates some strategies and resources for finding the information you need using the Georgia State University Library.
Consult the following websites for additional information:
Literature Reviews - The Writing Center at the University of North Carolina
Guidelines for Writing a Literature Review - The University of Minnesota, Duluth
How to Write a Literature Review - Concordia University
Write a Literature Review - The University of California, Santa Cruz
Literature Reviews: An Overview for Graduate Students - North Carolina State University (Video)
When in doubt about your literature review...
There are dozens of techniques for creating a literature review, and they vary by your field of study, the purpose of the review, the topic, and sometimes even the personal preferences of the professor, thesis committee, or journal editor.
A literature review surveys scholarly articles, books and other sources relevant to a particular issue, area of research, or theory, and by so doing, providing a description, summary, and critical evaluation of these works. Literature reviews are designed to provide an overview of sources you have explored while researching a particular topic and to demonstrate to your readers how your research fits into the larger field of study.
A literature review involves much more than just a summary of the included sources. While it can be a summary of sources on a certain subject, more often it takes a critical, evaluative approach, showing the relationships between the various writings and how they relate to your own work. A good literature review will look at the research that has been done and synthesize or pull together those elements that are similar or most pertinent to the theme you have chosen.
What is the “literature” in a literature review?
The “literature” reviewed depends on the project and subject area. For most subject areas, it would contain the collection of scholary sources found to be relevant to your research topic, such as books and articles written by noted experts in the field.
Some projects may, however, focus on a specific format. For example, some literature reviews will review only books. Others will review only scholarly journals articles. While others will include both books and articles (and possibly other sources of data/research). What and how much you review will be determined by the scope of your project.
Where are literature reviews used?
A well written literature review demonstrates that you have not only thoroughly researched your topic but also carefully examined and critically evaluated the range of relevant resources.
Much more than a simple list of sources, an effective literature review:
Questions a literature review may answer: