The literature review is a written overview of all the major research and writing on a specific topic and is usually the second chapter of a thesis or a dissertation. It is often the most daunting part of writing a thesis or a dissertation. With over or around 40 percent of the total word count, a literature review is often the basis on which the study is conducted. It also serves to provide crucial insight into previous research conducted on the topic, which then serves as a baseline for your analysis.
The main purpose of a literature review is to provide a summary, description, and evaluation of each source or study which should be presented under specific headings. Hence, sources for a good literature review should include articles from scholarly and peer-reviewed journals, published works such as books and government reports etc. For online resources such as websites or web pages, it is best to take information from verified sources such as government or official websites which have authentic information as opposed to opinions or conjunctures.
A Good Literature Review
As literature review provides a critical overview or written account of the current state of research on any given topic, it also serves to identify areas of previous scholarship, allows each source to be placed in the context of its contribution to the area of research or theory under study etc. A good literature review also describes the relationship of each study or source to the others and provides new ways of looking at the topic. Importantly, this also enables the researcher to identify any gaps in the previous literature and therefore provides a way forward for research.
What should be in a good literature review?
To this end, a literature review should include a clear objective, overview of the subject/topic, position on the topic taken by previous researchers along with different arguments/theories provided and a discussion of the similarities and differences between all the sources.