What is a Literature Review?
A literature review is an evaluation of relevant literature on a topic and is usually the starting point for any undergraduate essay or postgraduate research. A literature review identifies gaps in the current knowledge and provides context to your research and research questions. For Postgraduate researchers the literature review will underpin and help to justify research design and choice of methodology.
A search and review of relevant sources may be extensive. The focus for a literature review is on scholarly published materials such as books, journal articles and reports. Postgraduate researchers will normally focus on primary sources such as research studies in journals.
A literature review also provides evidence for an undergraduate assignment. Students new to a discipline may find that starting with an overview or review of relevant research in books and journals, is the easiest way to begin researching a topic and obtaining the necessary background information.
Source materials can be categorised as:
The Literature Review Structure:
Like a standard academic essay, a literature review is made up of three key components: an introduction, a body and a conclusion. Most literature reviews can follow the following format:
This information has been adapted from the Edith Cowan University Literature review: Academic tip sheet.
Steps in Searching and Reviewing the Literature
Define the topic and scope of the assignment. Ensure you understand the question and expectations of the assignment. It's useful to develop a plan and outline, headings, etc.
Synthesise the Information and Write
Edith Cowan University acknowledges and respects the Nyoongar people, who are the traditional custodians of the land upon which its campuses stand and its programs operate.
In particular ECU pays its respects to the Elders, past and present, of the Nyoongar people, and embrace their culture, wisdom and knowledge.