If you want more in-depth information, there are plenty of books about the literature review process. Some keywords that might help you locate this kind of material include:

  • Research --Methodology --Study and teaching (Higher) --Handbooks, manuals, etc.
  • Research
  • Academic writing
  • Social sciences --Authorship --Handbooks, manuals, etc.

Here are some examples:


Diagram from the Literature Review: A Research Journey instructional videoThe Literature Review

A literature review is an evaluative process that allows you to address your research question.

A "lit review" is essentially an overview

Often, it is formalized and written down, as for this course in the annotated bibliography. Here's what the literature review covers:

  • What is known/has been said about the issue you’re researching
  • What’s not known & why it’s important to know it

The literature review allows you to demonstrate due diligence in addressing these two questions. Is there similar research literature that addresses the issue you’re studying—why are these publications important and why do they tell us something that could apply to your question?

Have you been able (through the literature review) to identify questions that published research does not answer? In other words, can you now make a case for why further study of your research question is important to the field?


Harvard University Graduate School of Education, Literature Review: A Research Journey instructional video. Creative Commons


Clearly, you'll be most concerned with the content of published material you evaluate as part of the literature review.

Here are some other issues to consider as you decide whether or not it is an appropriate source to reference in your research:

  • What is the format? A book, academic journal article, magazine article, report, conference paper...
  • Who is the primary audience?
  • How would you characterize the publisher? Popular, academic, government...
  • Is it peer reviewed?
  • If it is published research, where does it fit in the cycle of information sharing?

Oxford Bibliographies

Find an Oxford Bibliographies Online article that most closely aligns to your research topic.