What are they?
A literature review examines and evaluates the scholarly literature on a topic.
All research, whatever the discipline, needs to be situated in relation to what has already been done in the field.
Reviewing the literature helps you:
For comprehensive literature searching it is important to be systematic in your approach. This includes developing a plan for your search (including the search terms you will use and the resources you will search), and keeping records of the searches you carry out.
A good starting point to conducting your own literature review is to read some published literature reviews on related topics.
Alternatively, some databases may allow you to do a topic search and refine your results to document type Literature Review or Review (see example below from Scopus database).
You might have heard the term 'Systematic Review'. A systematic review goes further than a literature review in that it aims to locate and evaluate all studies, published and unpublished, relevant to a specific research question.
Systematic reviews use explicit, systematic methods to minimise bias and enable verification and replication. Those produced by the Cochrane Library are often considered to be the 'gold standard'.
Click the table below to read about some different review types.
Literature reviews may vary across different disciplinary areas.
If submitting your review for publication the requirements will be outlined by the journal that you choose.
Examples of published literature reviews:
Francesca Gany, Patricia Novo, Rebecca Dobslaw, Jennifer Leng
Elena Novaka, Rim Razzouka, Tristan E. Johnson
Daniel Leung Rob Law Hubert van Hoof Dimitrios Buhalis
Marketing & Management example
Mads Hovmøller Mortensen
Disaster medicine example
J Nowlan, V Wuthrich & R Rapee
Radiation sciences example
AZ Kibrom & KA Knight
Social work example
Andrew J McCormick
CJ Normark & A Garling
A Creech & S Hallam