Literature Reviews

Literature Reviews

2. What is a literature review?

A literature review is a text (or portion of a text) that provides an overview of the literature associated with a specific topic or research question.

A literature review can form part of:

  • background research;
  • the process of exploring or refining a research question;
  • and/or a research methodology.

Literature reviews can take different approaches, for example:

  • an overview of classic theoretical texts in a relevant field,
  • an assessment of the existing literature and research,
  • an analysis of research methodologies and case studies,
  • a timeline of the evolution of an idea or concept, or
  • a survey of contemporary research into the subject.

Literature reviews in the social sciences and humanities can also take different forms, including:

  • a dissertation chapter
  • a meta-analysis of research on a topic,
  • or a section of a research paper.

Further resources on social sciences literature reviews:

Reflection Exercise:

  • Why are you conducting a literature review?
  • What do you hope to gain from the process?