The purpose of a literature review is to provide a review of writings on the given topic in order to establish the reviewer’s own position in the existing field of scholarship on that topic.
A literature review provides a reader with a comprehensive look at previous discussions prior to the one the reviewer will be making in his/her own research paper, thesis, or dissertation.
To help you choose your sources appropriately, you might want to think about the parameters and objectives of your research. In your literature review, what theoretical issues or perspectives do you aim to tackle? Will you focus on mainly qualitative or quantitative studies, or a mixture of both?
These general questions should help guide you in selecting your sources and again, remember that the abstract of a source is a very useful tool.
In short, a literature review shows readers where the reviewer is entering the academic conversation on a particular topic in the context of existing scholarship.
The length and depth of your literature review depends on the length of your project.
The basic components of a literature review include: An annotated bibliography is a list of your references with a summary of the content and the publication’s relationship to your research question.
A literature review is an overview of the topic, an explanation of how publications differ from one another, and an examination of how each publication contributes to the discussion and understanding of the topic.
Whereas a summary will most likely provide a simple recap of the general arguments of the source(s), the expectations concerning a literature review extend beyond this.
A literature review may provide a new perspective on a classic research paper or it may combine both new and old interpretations (this is the “gap” – more on this later).