Skip to main content

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.

Read: What is a literature review?

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.

Steps include:

  1. identification of a topic of interest
  2.  searching and retrieving the appropriate literature
  3. analysing and synthesizing the findings
  4. writing a report.

Critical evaluation of the existing literature on a particular topic to determine and articulate what is known and unknown on the topic, providomg context for your research.

A literature review should address:

  • What research has already been undertaken in this area
  • Present results and conclusions of existing research
  • 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  • Avoid outdated or discredited material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