Literature Reviews

This guide provides information to understand the purpose of a Literature review, search for information, analysis; synthesis of the literature and writing the review.

What are literature reviews

What are literature reviews:

Sometimes a research project, and sometimes part of a larger project of research, a literature review:

  • identifies and appraises the material that has been written on a particular topic
  • discards anything irrelevant and looks critically at peripheral works
  • describes, summarises, and clarifies the relevant literature
  • raises questions and identifies areas to be explored
  • can serve as a framework for an ensuing study or piece of research, such as a thesis



The stages of a literature review:




Different types of reviews

  • Annotated bibliography –
    • is a list of citations of research sources (books, journal articles, websites etc) on a topic
    • includes a brief summary and analysis or evaluation of each citation = the annotation
  • Narrative or traditional literature review –
    • is an overview of the significant literature on a topic
    • typically includes a critical analysis of each work included
    • demonstrates the reviewers knowledge of the topic
  • Literature review (Systematic) opens in a new window
    • a critical assessment of all research studies on a particular research question
    • has specific criteria for systematically collecting and evaluating the literature
    • includes a synthesis of the findings of the included studies
  • Systematic quantitative literature review opens in a new window
    • This method developed by Griffith University's School of Environment bridges the gap between traditional narrative review methods and meta-analyses to enable student's to produce results that are reliable, quantifiable and reproducible.

Understanding the literature review process (Video)

Understanding the literature review process - a video overview (9 minutes)

Video of understanding a literature review

Books and resources for your literature review