This guide provides an introduction to the literature review process:
1. About This Guide | 2. What is the Literature? | 3. What is a Literature Review? | 4. What a Literature Review is Not! | 5. Literature Reviews: An Overview for Graduate Students
3. Methods for Searching the Literature
1. Tasks Involved in a Literature Review | 2. Skills Required for Conducting a Literature Search | 3. Searching Techniques | 4. Sorting the Literature | 5. Notetaking | 6. Questions to Keep in Mind
6. Writing the Review
1. Writing the Literature Review Part 1: Step-by-Step Tutorial for Graduate Students | 2. Writing the Literature Review Part 2: Step-by-Step Tutorial for Graduate Students | 3. Tips for Effective Literature Reviews | 4. Literature Review Samples | 5. Resources @ UWISA Libraries
The works you consult in order to identify the ideas and knowledge that have been established on your topic:
Journal articles are the most common sources of materials for literature reviews. They provide:
Books are usually less up-to-date than journal articles. They are:
Conference proceedings may contain research not yet published in journals.
Reports of government and international agencies
Theses and dissertations can be valuable sources of original research
Newspapers and magazines may inlcude news stories on research that you can follow up to find more detail
Web pages/documents on the Internet
"The selection of available documents (both published and unpublished) on the topic, which contain information, ideas, data and evidence written from a particular standpoint to fulfil certain aims or express certain views on the nature of the topic and how it is to be investigated, and the effective evaluation of these documents in relation to the research being proposed." (Hart, 1998, p. 13)
"A literature review uses as its database reports of primary or original scholarlship and does not report new primary scholarship itself.... Second, a literature review seeks to describe, summarize, evaluate, clarify and/or interrogate the content of primary reports." (Cooper, 1998, p. 7)
"A literature review is a written document that presents a logically argued case founded on a comprehensive understanding of the current state of knowledge about a topic of study. This case establishes a convincing thesis to answer a study's question." (Machi & McEvoy, 2009, p. 4)
It is not an annotated bibliography!
An annotated bibliography "is a list of citations to books, articles, and documents. Each citation is followed by a brief (usually about 150 words) descriptive and evaluative paragraph, the annotation. The purpose of the annotation is to inform the reader of the relevance, accuracy, and quality of the sources cited." Definition from Cornell University Library, available at http://guides.library.cornell.edu/annotatedbibliography
Sincere thanks to Jennifer Warburton of the University of Melbourne for permission to draw on some of the content of her Guide.