Writing the literature review

Sunday, February 22, 2009


The literature review:

  • -->familiarizes the reader with the depth, breadth and scope of the research topic;
  • -->defines key concepts;
  • -->establishes the body of knowledge that the research will contribute to.

The purpose of a literature review is not simply to describe or summarise the literature in the field. That would be an annotated bibliography. The literature review is an active process of construction. It involves defining and problematising the field within which you will situate your own research. A literature review involves providing a rationale for your selection of literature, drawing points of comparison or conflict between texts, and providing critical commentary on the selected literature. The aim of the literature review is to persuade the reader that your research is informed, coherent, necessary and innovative.

Taken from, http://www.unisanet.unisa.edu.au/Resources/research-Education/research%20education/Online%20resources/Support%20materials/Literature%20review.htm

How is a LITERATURE REVIEW different from an ACADEMIC RESEARCH paper

While the main focus of an academic research paper is to support your own argument, the focus of a literature review is to summarize and synthesize the arguments and ideas of others. The academic research paper also covers a range of sources, but it is usually a select number of sources, because the emphasis is on the argument. Likewise, a literature review can also have an "argument," but it is not as important as covering a number of sources. In short, an academic research paper and a literature review contain some of the same elements. In fact, many academic research papers will contain a literature review section. But it is the aspect of the study (the argument or the sources) that is emphasized that determines what type of document it is.

Taken from, http://www.unc.edu/depts/wcweb/handouts/literature_review.html