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How to Write a Literature Review

What it is, the purpose, strategies, guidelines, and resources to help you to get started.


Selection of sources

  • Have you indicated the purpose of the review?

  • Are the parameters of the review reasonable?

  • Why did you include some of the literature and exclude others?

  • Which years did you exclude?

  • Have you emphasized recent developments?

  • Have you focused on primary sources with only selective use of secondary sources?

    • Is the literature you have selected relevant?

    • Is your bibliographic data complete?

Critical evaluation of the literature

  • Have you organized your material according to issues?

  • Is there a logic to the way you organized the material?

  • Does the amount of detail included on an issue relate to its importance?

  • Have you been sufficiently critical of design and methodological issues?

  • Have you indicated when results were conflicting or inconclusive and discussed possible reasons?

  • Have you indicated the relevance of each reference to your research?


  • Has your summary of the current literature contributed to the reader's understanding of the problems?

  • Does the design of your research reflect the methodological implications of the literature review?


  • The literature review will be judged in the context of your completed research.

The review needs to further the reader's understanding of the problem and whether it provides a rationale for your research.

Image source:  Nobbler 76.  Public Domain.  Wikimedia Commons.

Source:  University of Newcastle.  Used with permission.