What is a Literature Review?
A literature review surveys scholarly articles, books, dissertations, conference proceedings and other resources which are relevant to a particular issue, area of research, or theory and provides context for a dissertation by identifying past research. Research tells a story and the existing literature helps us identify where we are in the story currently. It is up to those writing a dissertation to continue that story with new research and new perspectives but they must first be familiar with the story before they can move forward.
Purpose of a Literature Review
- Identifies gaps in current knowledge
- Helps you to avoid reinventing the wheel by discovering the research already conducted on a topic
- Sets the background on what has been explored on a topic so far
- Increases your breadth of knowledge in your area of research
- Helps you identify seminal works in your area
- Allows you to provide the intellectual context for your work and position your research with other, related research
- Provides you with opposing viewpoints
- Helps you to discover research methods which may be applicable to your work
Greenfield, T. (2002). Research methods for postgraduates. 2nd ed. London: Arnold.