Conducting a literature review
- What is a literature review
- Purpose of a literature review
- How to do a literature review
- Searching for the literature
- Library service and support
A literature review surveys existing research, (scholarly articles, books, dissertations, conference proceedings etc), relevant to your area of study. A literature review is not a summary, rather it is an evaluation of each work, the relationships between different works, and how they relate to your research. A literature review almost always forms a chapter of a thesis or dissertation and is thus an essential part of the research process.
Hart (1998) defines a literature review as:
"The selection of available documents (both published and unpublished) on the topic, which contain information, ideas, data and evidence written from a particular standpoint to fulfill certain aims or express certain views on the nature of the topic and how it is to be investigated, and the effective evaluation of these documents in relation to the research being proposed."
According to Bourner (1996), sound reasons for conducting a literature review are:
- to identify gaps in the literature
- to avoid reinventing the wheel
- to carry on from where others have already reached
- to identify other people working in the same fields
- to increase your breadth of knowledge of your subject area
- to identify seminal works in your area
- to provide the intellectual context for your own work, enabling you to position your project relative to other work
- to identify opposing views
- to put your work into perspective
- to demonstrate that you can access previous work in an area
- to identify information and ideas that may be relevant to your project
- to identify methods that could be relevant to your project
The following is a selection of books on literature reviews available from Southern Cross University Library. Use OneSearch to find more titles on this topic.
|Integrating research: a guide for literature reviews||300.72 COOP (Tweed)|
|Practical research: planning and design||001.43 LEED (Lismore, Coffs)|
|Successful dissertations and theses: a guide to graduate student research from proposal to completion||808.02 MADS (Lismore, Coffs)|
|Doing a literature review: releasing the social science research imagination.||300.72 HART (Lismore, Coffs)|
|Writing for academic success: a postgraduate guide||808.02 CRAS (Lismore, Coffs)|
Selected Internet Resources
Getting Started on your Literature Review is a guide from The Learning Centre at UNSW containing very useful tips and examples on how to write your literature review.
Conducting a literature review from the University of Melbourne Library is a comprehensive website on writing a literature review. It contains advice on how to start, how to find reading materials, critical reading, reviewing and rethinking, structuring a review, writing, and a final checklist.
The University of Toronto offers a succinct guide to The literature review. It poses the questions you should ask yourself about the sources you are reviewing.
Writing a literature review a basic academic skills course about literature review from University of Canberra.
Preparing Scholarly Reviews of the Literature: A Webtorial: teaches you how to use research literature from the social sciences in a scholarly and professional manner. It is intended for masters and doctoral degree students in all the social sciences.
The library provides various tools and resources to help you conduct an extensive search of relevant information on your topic. You can use OneSearch for books and non-book materials in the library collection, use Databases to search for articles in journals and newspapers, or consult the Subject Guides to find out the relevant resources in your area. The Finding Information site has detailed guides on how to use locate specific types of literature such as books, articles, conference papers, theses, government publications and statistics.
The Library is able to help as you undertake your research project. Liaison librarians are subject specialists who can assist you in using library resources. Contact the liaison librarian for your school to organise a consultation session. The Document Supply Service can help you obtain materials that are not held at SCU Library. You can enhance your informations skills by teaching yourself with our Assignment Navigator online tutorials.
Managing the references you have collected can be most efficiently achieved by using the EndNote bibliographical software. Further information on how EndNote can make your research life easier, as well as how to download and install it, is available at SCU Library's EndNote libguide.
Updated: 03 April 2013