A literature review surveys scholarly articles, books, and other sources in a given field or sub-field, in order to provide an overview of the significant literature on a topic. The literature review might be a standalone paper, or it might be a chapter or section of your thesis or research paper on that topic. Your literature review should do the following:
Summarize the literature in a given field
Evaluate the quality of evidence and strength of existing claims
Show how published works relate to one another
Place your work in the context of other research in a field
Typically, the literature review will combine both the summary and synthesis of the literature covered. It can provide an overview of the sources on your topic, and may also serve to show what, if any, literature is missing on that topic.
Here are some questions to ask when you are trying to get a sense of the current scope of literature on your topic:
Citation: Taylor, D. (n.d.). The literature review: A few tips on conducting it. Writing Advice; University of Toronto. Retrieved March 25, 2022, from https://advice.writing.utoronto.ca/types-of-writing/literature-review/
You can build a protocol for your literature review and search process before starting. Take a look at this checklist developed by the Cornell Library Evidence Synthesis Service to walk you through this process. The checklist is available as a pdf.
A literature review, whether stand-alone or part of a larger paper, should have the following elements:
Here are some helpful tips for searching for sources for your literature review:
Follow a few basic steps to locate sources:
You can also utilize existing bibliographies and literature reviews to find sources for your project.