A literature review is a comprehensive and up-to-date overview of the principal research about the topic being studied.
The aim of a literature review is to show "that the writer has studied existing work in the field with insight" (Haywood and Wragg, 1982). It is not enough merely to show what others in your field have discovered. You need to view the work of others with insight to review critically. An effective review analyses and synthesizes material, and it should meet the following requirements: (Caulley, 1992)
A literature review has a number of purposes. It enables you to:
Source: University of Melbourne's Literature Review Libguide
Categorizing the Literature
When categorizing the writings in the review, the researcher might consider
He/She might consider such questions as:
Remember that you are relating other studies to your study. How do the studies in your lit. review relate to your thesis? How are the other studies related to each other?
While planning your review, in addition to finding and analyzing the reviews in dissertations, you might ask yourself questions such as the following:
What is my central question or issue that the literature can help define?
What is already known about the topic?
Is the scope of the literature being reviewed wide or narrow enough?
Is there a conflict or debate in the literature?
What connections can be made between the texts being reviewed?
What sort of literature should be reviewed? Historical? Theoretical? Methodological? Quantitative? Qualitative?
What criteria should be used to evaluate the literature being reviewed?
How will reviewing the literature justify the topic I plan to investigate?
From: Writing the successful thesis and dissertation: entering the conversation, by Irene L. Clark
source: Kent State University's Literature Reviews Libguide