The aim of a literature review is to identify any gaps that your research will attempt to address, to assist with the development of your inquiry and, to give the reader a better understanding of the subject.
A literature review is an essential part of university assignments, at an undergraduate level, a literature review is expected to:
Provides knowledge of all the recent research within a narrow topic/ field of study
Acts as a starting point for other researchers
Should show the reader what you are doing your project on, why and how it will fit in with other research in the field
Offer an accurate account of the key points, methodologies, and conclusions of current research on your topic
Demonstrate your awareness and understanding of the main theoretical approaches and how they relate to your topic
Justify why you are taking a particular approach to your chosen topic and possibly to show how your approach adds something that is not already known or understood within the area
A literature review is not simply a list describing or summarising one piece of literature after another
The below is the basic structure of a literature review.
There are two main approaches to writing a literature review. These are the Study by Study approach and the Topic by Topic approach.
This is approaching the literature review from a chronological approach. The literature review will:
This is approaching the literature review by assessing themes/ topics. The literature review will:
Your review should not simply be a description of what others have published in the form of summaries
A literature review is not an annotated bibliography
It should take the form of a critical discussion
It needs to evaluate relevant literature