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Writing a Literature Review: Introduction

What IS a Literature Review?

The purpose of a literature review is to offer an overview of what is known about a topic.  It will also evaluate the strength of the evidence on that topic. It usually contains a summary or an analysis of the key arguments in the existing literature. The literature may come from books, articles, reports, or other formats.  Sources may contradict each other.  A literature review also helps distinguish what research has been done and identify what needs further research. It does not present an original argument.

Traditional or Narrative Literature Review

  • Critiques a body of literature
  • Summarises arguments from various sources pointing out strengths and weaknesses of their arguments
  • Draws conclusions about the topic
  • Identifies gaps or inconsistencies in a body of knowledge
  • Requires a sufficiently focused research question


From the University of Toledo.


What Will You Review?

  • The current status of the knowledge or research about a topic, question or field
  • The theoretical approach(es) used in studying this particular topic
  • The data collection tools and procedures used and their implications on the body of knowledge
  • The future direction(s) on a topic in terms of theory, methodology, questions for further study, and so on

Steps in the Literature Review

Assignment scheduler

Use an assignment scheduler to plan your work on the literature review. Enter the due date and get a plan of attack to help you complete your assignment on time.

Try out the assignment scheduler here