what does a literature review look like

what does a literature review look like

To get an idea of what a literature review looks like, look for review articles (basically one big literature review of a topic). Review articles not only give you an idea of what a literature review looks like, but they will also give a great overview of important studies and research on your topic.

  • an unpublished, stand-alone assignment
  • a chapter in a thesis or dissertation
  • as part of a research article

A literature review is a comprehensive summary of previous research on a topic. The literature review surveys scholarly articles, books, and other sources relevant to a particular area of research. The review should enumerate, describe, summarize, objectively evaluate and clarify this previous research. It should give a theoretical base for the research and help you (the author) determine the nature of your research. The literature review acknowledges the work of previous researchers, and in so doing, assures the reader that your work has been well conceived. It is assumed that by mentioning a previous work in the field of study, that the author has read, evaluated, and assimiliated that work into the work at hand.
A literature review creates a “landscape” for the reader, giving her or him a full understanding of the developments in the field. This landscape informs the reader that the author has indeed assimilated all (or the vast majority of) previous, significant works in the field into her or his research.

What does a literature review look like
The literature review section of an article is a summary or analysis of all the research the author read before doing his/her own research. This section may be part of the introduction or in a section called Background. It provides the background on who has done related research, what that research has or has not uncovered and how the current research contributes to the conversation on the topic. When you read the lit review ask:

  • Does the review of the literature logically lead up to the research questions?
  • Do the authors review articles relevant to their research study?
  • Do the authors show where there are gaps in the literature?