Skip to main content
University of Wollongong Australia

Literature Review: Getting started

You might write a literature review if you are working on:

  • an upcoming assessment task
  • a journal or review article
  • a grant application
  • a thesis

The purpose of a literature review is to:

  • provide context for your research hypothesis or question
  • ensure the research is original (i.e. not already published)
  • identify where your research fits into the existing body of literature
  • highlight the strengths and weaknesses in any previous relevant research
  • make recommendations for further research

Literature reviews examine and evaluate the scholarly literature on a topic.

A literature review is conducted in the beginning stages of your research and is written either as a stand-alone document or as part of a larger piece of work (like a chapter in a thesis).

A good literature review is:

1. Focused: details only what is necessary for your purpose in writing but doesn't include everything you've read.

2. Analytical: focused on ideas and relationships between ideas, rather than just the authors.

3. Critical: makes comparisons between different concepts/theories. Your own interpretation and evaluation needs to be evident.

You can find examples of literature reviews in journals, and in theses (usually found in the second chapter).

Journals

Most databases allow you to limit searches to 'review articles'.

Review articles are a great place to start your literature review.

Review articles:

  • are written by experts in the field
  • provide a synthesis of the research literature
  • provide an overview of the research topic
  • detail developments in the research and identify future directions
  • highlight where the gaps in the research exist
  • identify the main authors in the field
  • include an extensive bibliography
  • are generally highly cited

Theses

Locate a thesis from your faculty and check out the literature review chapter. Access the guide below and follow the instructions to find UOW theses.

For more information on how to write your literature review, see below.

Other useful resources for writing a literature review:

Central Queensland University

University of North Carolina

Loading

Need help?

Learning Co-op: undergraduate and coursework students can talk to a Peer Academic Coach at the Learning Co-Op in the Library, who can help make an appointment to see an Academic Language and Learning lecturer.

Seminars: postgraduate research students are encouraged to attend Thesis Writing Seminars. Register for the HDR seminar series.

Ask a librarian: all students needing assistance with searching for information for their literature review can request help from the Library – please Ask Us.

Subject specialists: all academic staff needing assistance with searching for information for their literature review or identifying a journal to publish in should get in touch with their key faculty contact.

UOW Library  |  Subject readings  |  A-Z journals  |  A-Z databases  |  Copyright  |  Research Online

Borrowing information | Connect to wireless | Print, copy & scan

Ask us  |  Tell us