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Getting Started With Research

Literature Review


What is a literature review?

  • Overview of published literature on an issue or topic
  • Unlike a research paper, it does not present a new argument
  • Support basis for new research by providing a summary or description and evaluation of each source.
    • Tip: Be sure to discuss major themes or disparities you see across the literature. How does each reading fit in with the rest?
  • Can be part of a larger research project or completed as a standalone work


How should I organize my literature review?

Literature reviews can be organized in many different ways. Some approaches to consider:

  • Types of sources
    • You might create sections for scholarly and popular publications, 
  • Chronology
    • Organizing your sources by publication date will show the topic's history.
  • Research Methodology
    • If you are working with studies, grouping readings by methodology will illustrate the impact of different approaches.
      • Tip: This would be useful if you are completing a new study and want to demonstrate a gap in current research.


Why do literature reviews matter?

Literature reviews are helpful not only to your readers but they also benefit you because they:

  • Provide a framework for new research
    • Avoid repeating research that's already been done
    • Show new directions for research
  • Help your reader understand the context of your research
  • Identify different methodologies
  • Highlight important themes and subtopics