Naturally, you will be analyzing sources and data using your own, original interpretations, but every topic has been addressed before by the scholars that came before you. To demonstrate your understanding of that previous scholarship, most research papers include a literature review. A literature review surveys scholarly articles, books and other sources relevant to your particular issue, area of research, or theory, and by so doing, providing a description, summary, and critical evaluation of these works. Literature reviews are designed to provide an overview of sources you have explored while researching a particular topic and to demonstrate to your readers how your research fits into the larger field of study.
A literature review involves much more than just a summary of the included sources. While it can be a summary of sources on a certain subject, more often it takes a critical, evaluative approach, showing the relationships between the various writings and how they relate to your own work. A good literature review will look at the research that has been done and synthesize or pull together those elements that are similar or most pertinent to the theme you have chosen.
A well written literature review:
A well written literature review demonstrates that you have not only thoroughly researched your topic but also carefully examined and critically evaluated the range of relevant resources.
Much more than a simple list of sources, an effective literature review:
Questions a literature review may answer:
The "five C’s" of writing a literature review:
Your synthesis can be done in a number of different ways:
No matter which method you choose, remember: Within each section of a literature review, it is important to discuss how the research relates to other studies (how is it similar or different, what other studies have been done, etc.) as well as to demonstrate how it relates to your own work. This is what the review is for: don’t leave this connection out!