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
2. Why Do a Literature Review?
1. Reasons for Doing a Literature Review | 2. Purposes of a Literature Review | 3. Components of a Literature Review
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
4. Analysing the Literature 1. Recording the Literature | 2. The Evolving Literature Review | 3. Questions to Ask
5. Organizing the Review
1. Organizing Principles | 2. Structure of the Literature Review | 3. Tips on Structure | 4. Selected Online Resources | 5. A Final Checklist
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 analysis, critical evaluation and synthesis of existing knowledge relevant to your research problem, thesis or the issue you are aiming to say something about" (Hart, 2018, p. 3 & 4)
"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, 2016, p. 5)
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.