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Literature Reviews: Writing

Fast facts

  • Conducting a literature review enables you to demonstrate your understanding and knowledge of the existing work within your field of research. Doing so allows you to identify any underdeveloped areas or unexplored issues within a specific debate, dialogue or field of study.
  • Literature review refers both to a research process and a written product (i.e., a chapter or a section of an academic work).
    • The research process will tap into your skills constructing library searches, working with database results, and evaluating sources for relevance and validity.
    • The written work will tap into your ability to logically structure a work and synthesise information from a wide variety of sources.
  • A literature review will respond to, or be built around, a specific research question and/or research gap. Defining the gap(s) and question(s) is important for constructing a good search and refining your writing.

University of Southampton training resources

,  - Writing the Literature Review

This online guide and corresponding video workshop cover the most common expectations for the literature review chapter of a dissertation. Whether the lit review you are writing is for a dissertation or another purpose, check out this guide and video for detailed, relevant guidance on structure, defining a research gap, what to avoid, and more.

Writing the Dissertation video workshops: Literature Review

,  - Literature Review - Research Methods

This guide to writing a literature review forms part of the Research Methods module created by the University Library. It looks at the purpose of a literature review, describing different resource types, creating and conducting a literature search, evaluating resources and describing the main structural principles of a literature review chapter.

Literature Review: Research Methods Training. Understand the purpose of a lit review. Describe different resource types. Create and conduct a lit search. Evaluate the resources you find. Explore the structural principles of a lit review chapter.

Additional resources

 - Writing a Literature Review (Coventry University)

A snappy guide covering the requirements at different academic levels.

- Scientific Literature Reviews (Dublin City University)

An in-depth guide to writing a scientific literature review with lots of guidance on literature searching, critical analysis and communication/writing skills.

 - What is a Literature Review? (Royal Literary Fund)

A brief overview of what a literature review is, with starter tips for structure, searching and more. Great for beginners!

 - Literature Reviews (UNC Chapel Hill)

A very helpful online guide for students!

 Literature Reviews: An Overview for Graduate Students (NC State University)

A video guide with good details and illustrations of the literature review process.

 - Doing Your Literature Review (University of Reading)

Video guide for planning and writing lit reviews.