Literature Reviews

Literature Reviews

4. What is the purpose of a literature review?

This depends on the role the literature review plays in the research.

For you as the writer, the literature review provides a map of the theory and research related to your chosen subject of study. It can help you:

  • develop and refine a research question, methodology, and/or theoretical framework;
  • identify gaps in existing research,
  • provide a theoretical overview required to conduct your research,
  • provide an interdisciplinary overview of the topic,
  • be used to indicate your contribution to the field(s) of inquiry, and/or
  • strengthen your knowledge and expertise in your area of study.

For the reader, the literature review can reveal your rationale for pursuing your line of inquiry. A published literature review can also provide the reader with an appraisal of the existing literature on a topic, provide background for their own research interests, and present related texts in conversation with each other.


Reflection Exercise: 

  • What do you hope the outcome of your literature review is?
  • Who do you envision reading it?