Write a literature review
A literature review is usually just the first portion of a paper that plans to report a study. It surveys scholarly articles, books and other sources (e.g. dissertations, conference proceedings) relevant to a particular issue, area of research, or theory, providing a description, summary, and critical evaluation of each work. The purpose is to offer an overview of significant literature published on a topic.
Why do a literature review?
The goal of a literature review is essentially to explain what has been done within a certain subject area, including the types of studies published, the key players in this field, and a sense of what still needs to be done. It may constitute an essential chapter of a thesis or dissertation, or may be a self-contained review of writings on a subject. In either case, its purpose is to:
- To identify gaps in the literature
- To carry on from where others have already reached
- To identify other people working in the same fields
- To increase your breadth of knowledge of your subject area
- To provide the intellectual context for your own work, enabling you to position your project relative to other work
- To place each work in the context of its contribution to the understanding of the subject under review
- To identify information and ideas that may be relevant to your project
- Point the way forward for further research
The literature review process
Similar to primary research, development of the literature review requires:
- Problem formulation?which topic or field is being examined and what are its component issues?
- Literature search?finding materials relevant to the subject being explored
- Data evaluation?determining which literature makes a significant contribution to the understanding of the topic
- Analysis and interpretation?discussing the findings and conclusions of pertinent literature
- Correctly cite all sources mentioned