Skip to Main Content

Literature Review

What is a literature review, what is its purpose, and how to do it.

About this guide

This research guide was developed for students at Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania.

If you are a student from another school, you are welcome to peruse the guide, using the links above, but please know that our librarians can only provide general help to non-BU students. Contact the librarians at your own institution for help in using the resources available to you.

-Andruss Library

 

Definition

A literature review is a comprehensive summary of previous research on a topic. The literature review surveys scholarly articles, books, and other sources relevant to a particular area of research. The review should enumerate, describe, summarize, objectively evaluate and clarify this previous research.  It should give a theoretical base for the research and help you (the author) determine the nature of your research.  The literature review acknowledges the work of previous researchers, and in so doing, assures the reader that your work has been well conceived.  It is assumed that by mentioning a previous work in the field of study, that the author has read, evaluated, and assimiliated that work into the work at hand.

A literature review creates a "landscape" for the reader, giving her or him a full understanding of the developments in the field.  This landscape informs the reader that the author has indeed assimilated all (or the vast majority of) previous, significant works in the field into her or his research. 

 "In writing the literature review, the purpose is to convey to the reader what knowledge and ideas have been established on a topic, and what their strengths and weaknesses are. The literature review must be defined by a guiding concept (eg. your research objective, the problem or issue you are discussing, or your argumentative thesis). It is not just a descriptive list of the material available, or a set of summaries.(http://www.writing.utoronto.ca/advice/specific-types-of-writing/literature-review)

Recommended Reading

Acknowledgements

Many thanks to Kate Houston and Libbie Blanchard of CQ University Libraries, (Queensland, Australia) whose LibGuide on the Literature Review served as a framework for this guide.

Designed and updated by Michael Coffta

About Us 

Chronicle of Higher Education

Renew Books Online

Suggestion Box

Library Fines

Giving to the Library

Request a Purchase

Open Computers

Student Employment

Andruss Library | 570-389-4205 | reference@bloomu.edu
©Copyright Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania • 400 East Second Street, Bloomsburg PA 17815-1301 • 570.389.4000