Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.
1. Tasks Involved in a Literature Review
There are two major tasks involved in a literature review:
- Identifying and selecting literature
- Writing about the literature
2. Skills Required for Conducting a Literature Search
- Information seeking skills
- Ability to use manual and electronic methods to identify useful resources
- Ability to conduct extensive bibliographic searches
- Critical appraisal skills
- Ability to describe, critique, and relate each source to the topic
- Ability to identify areas of controversy in the literature
- Organizational skills
- Ability to organize the literature collected around your topic
- Ability to present the review logically
3. Searching Techniques
Scan the literature for various types of content, including:
- theoretical foundations and definitions
- discussion and debate
- current issues
Skim potential works to select materials for inclusion
- decide whether to include or exclude a work from the review
4. Sorting the Literature
For each article identified for possible inclusion in the literature review, you need to:
1. read the abstract
- decide whether to read the entire article
2. read the introduction
- explains why the study is important
- provides a review and evalution of relevant literature
3. read Methods section critically
- focus on participants and methodology
4. evaluate results
- are the conclusions logical?
- is there evidence of bias?
- Take notes as you read through each paper that you will include in the review
- Extract key points by comparing and contrasting across studies:
- Purpose of study - research aims or hypotheses
- Research design and methodology
- Data analysis
- Summary of findings
Part of the task in taking notes is to begin the process of sifting and arranging ideas
6. Questions to Keep in Mind
- What are the key sources of information on this topic?
- What are the major issues and debates on this topic?
- What are the key theories, concepts, and ideas on this topic?
- What are the main questions and problems that have been addressed so far?
- What are the strengths and weaknesses of the various arguments on the topic?
- Who are the significant research personalities in this area?