Conducting a Literature Review

What is a literature review?

A review of the literature is a compilation of the research that has been published on a topic by recognized 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 might be.

A literature review should do the following:

A. Be organized around and related to the research question you are developing.

B. Synthesize results into a summary of what is and is not known.

C. Identify gaps or areas of controversy in the literature.

D. Formulate questions that need further research.

Conducting a Review of the Literature:

Step 1. Familiarize yourself with the scholarly journal literature by browsing the libraries’ E-Journals lists.

Step 2: Identify the keywords and phrases that describe your topic by making a list of possible synonyms.

Step 3: Select and search appropriate databases or search tools, for example:

Things to Keep in Mind:

  • Library databases are different than Web search engines.
  • The information cycle determines where and when certain types of information are published.
  • Most topics are interdisciplinary, so don’t limit your search to one field or subject database.
  • Be aware that research is a cyclical, recursive process.