A literature review is a survey and critical analysis of what has been written on a particular topic, theory, question or method.
"In writing the literature review, the purpose is to explore what knowledge and ideas have been established on a topic, what approaches and viewpoints have been adopted, and what are their strengths and weaknesses."
Source: "Focus and frame". (2008). In Eriksson, P. & Kovalainen, A. Introducing Qualitative Methods: Qualitative methods in business research (pp. 44). London: SAGE Publications Ltd. doi: 10.4135/9780857028044.
Get an overview on doing a literature review:
The type of literature review you do will depend on a variety of factors:
Always follow the guidelines outlined by your lecturer or supervisor or consult the instructions for authors (for journal articles), when conducting your literature review.
The requirements of narrative literature reviews are usually quite different than systematic reviews. However, you may be required to adopt some of the characteristics of a systematic approach when doing your literature review. Check the guidelines or criteria that have been set by your supervisor so you know what is expected of you.
|Presents the significant literature, or a sample of the literature, on a topic
|A comprehensive, systematic search for all the relevant literature on a topic must be conducted
|Search strategy does not have to be included
|Details of the search strategy are included
|The criteria for selecting what literature to include does not have to be documented
|Inclusion/exclusion criteria for selecting the literature is documented and defined in advance
|Quality and methodology
|The quality and methodology of the literature may not affect the decision to include it
|Comprehensive assessment of the quality and methodology of each study is conducted to decide on inclusion
|Presentation of included literature
|A summary of the included literature is provided
|A synthesis of the findings of all the included studies is provided
|The reviewer’s own beliefs may influence their interpretation of the findings
|The reviewer must present an unbiased, objective interpretation of the findings