What is a Literature Review?
Literature reviews are designed to do two things:
1) give your readers an overview of sources you have explored while researching a particular topic or idea
2) demonstrate how your research fits into the larger field of study.
1) Decide on a topic and identify the literature base you will review
-Become familiar with the relevant databases for that subject
-Identify search terms that capture your subject
-Start with general search terms and experiment with different terms noting which work
-Identify the important studies on the topic
-Redefine your topic if necessary. Try to narrow it to a specific interest area with the broad area
2) Analyze the literature (Your role is to evaluate what you’ve read.)
-Usually a review covers the last 5 years of literature on a topic
-Skim the articles to get an idea of the purpose and content.
-Group the articles into categories and sub-categories
-Take notes: Define key terms, key statistics, identify useful quotes
-Note strengths, weaknesses and emphases
-Identify trends or patterns
-Identify gaps in the literature
-Identify relationships between studies, which led to others etc.
-Stay focused on your topic
-Identify your area of focus and say why it is relevant or important to the topic
-summarize the contributions of important studies/articles to the topic
-evaluate the current “state of the art” point out gaps or inconsistencies in research or theories point out areas of possible future research
-provide some insight into the relationship between the central topic of the literature review and a larger area of study
-write a conclusion that clarifies how the material in the review has supported your proposition in the introduction