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Literature Reviews - Research Guide

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What is a Literature Review?

A literature review is a critical analysis of published texts, or literature, on a particular topic. The review should describe, summarise, evaluate, classify and compare this literature. A literature review gives an overview of:


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Why is a literature review important?

A literature review:

  • Identifies areas of prior research to prevent duplication of effort
  • Clarifies important definitions and terminology
  • Examines each text’s contribution to knowledge of the topic
  • Describes the relationship of each text to other texts
  • Interprets previous research and resolves conflicts amongst previous studies
  • Identifies knowledge gaps and identifies areas for further research
  • Places your research in the context of the existing literature
  • Creates a theoretical framework for your research
  • Focuses your knowledge of the topic and aids the design of your research

What does a literature review demonstrate?

Your literature review should:

  • Show that you understand the topic and why it is important
  • Demonstrate your ability to access relevant and current literature in the field
  • Demonstrate your ability to objectively evaluate research and highlight trends in the area
  • Provide an overview of the topic with clear and justified links to your conclusion

Starting a Literature Review

Featured Resource

SAGE Research Methods (SRM) allows researchers to explore methods and concepts to help them design research projects, understand particular methods or identify a new method, conduct their literature review and research, and write up their findings. Since SRM focuses on methodology, it can be used across  disciplines.

Research Support

Researchers at Murdoch University are supported by the Library and the Research and Innovation Directorate.

Please contact your Subject Librarian to make an appointment for advice on conducting a literature review, formulating research strategies, and information about resources and tools specific to your area of research.

Research ReachOut S2, 2019