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What is a literature review?

Undertaking a literature review is a key feature in many courses of study, an essential step in the research process, and is fundamental in the development of clinical practice and policy.

It involves critical evaluation of the existing literature on a particular topic to determine and articulate both what is known and unknown on the topic.

Types of literature reviews 

  • narrative or traditional
  • systematic review
  • meta-analysis
  • meta-synthesis

A structured step-by-step approach will help you produce a comprehensive and informed literature review.

  1. Identification of a topic of interest
  2.  Searching and retrieving the appropriate literature
  3. Analysing and synthesizing the findings
  4. Writing a report

A literature review should:

  • Address what research has already been undertaken in this area
  • Present results and conclusions of existing research
  • Explain how findings will inform your investigation
  • Identify gaps in literature that warrant further inquiry

It is important to

  • Include the most current research on the topic
  • Avoid outdated or discredited material
  • Present a broad and unbiased review
  • Analyse, evaluate and contrast existing research
  • Examine design and methods, and the outcomes
  • Present your position in relation to the literature reviewed

Original source for this content

Watch: Tips for writing a literature review article

Get one-on-one help

For more information on this topic visit Academic Skills

All campuses have Academic Skills Facilitators who hold regular training sessions.