What is a literature review?
- Both a process and a product
- Process: involves researching a topic to familiarize yourself with relevant research; identify key authors, arguments, and publications; and locate issues and gaps in the research
- Product: a thoroughly-cited critical analysis that synthesizes what is currently known about a topic (both theories and study results), written as a narrative
- Addresses aspects of a topic from various points of view
- Can point out things like: overall trends; conflicts in theory, methodology, evidence, conclusions; research gaps; new problems or perspectives
- Your interpretation of what's been written on your topic
- Narrative: it has an organizational scheme and combines both summary and synthesis
- Does not add new contributions, but instead summarizes and synthesizes the arguments and ideas of others
What ISN'T a literature review?
- An annotated bibliography
- A book review
- A literary review that critiques a specific work (such as a play or a short story)
Why do we do literature reviews?
- To support your own research
- To introduce readers to the current state of scholarship on your topic and highlight key people, publications, arguments, and ideas
- To position your own work within your academic discipline
Grant, M. J., & Booth, A. (2009). A typology of reviews: An analysis of 14 review types and associated methodologies. Health Information & Libraries Journal, 26(2), 91-108. doi:10.1111/j.1471-1842.2009.00848.x
While this video describes literature reviews as a section of a larger paper, many of the points it conveys are also applicable to literature reviews as a type of paper or publication.