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University of Wollongong Australia

Literature Review

This guide will help you to get started with searching for information for your Literature review.

What is a literature review?

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).

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

A good literature review is:

  1. focused. It details only what is necessary for your purpose in writing but doesn't include everything you've read.
  2. analytical. It's focused on ideas and relationships between ideas, rather than just the authors.
  3. critical. It makes comparisons between different concepts/theories. Your own interpretation and evaluation need to be evident.

Also see 'systematic literature reviews':

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