Skip to Main Content

Starting your literature review

Information providing guidance on starting a literature review, including resources, techniques and approaches to searching the literature and writing the review.

Upcoming Research Spotlights

Social media for researchers

Developing a strong social media presence is an effective way to communicate research to a wide audience. The session will cover the different platforms and applications researchers can use, as well as advice on audiences, strategies for engagement and digital best practice.

Wed 19 April 2023, 2:30-3:30 PM

Register for a webinar

This guide ...

This guide provides new HDR students with a starting point for commencing their literature search.

The guide will:

  • outline strategies and search techniques that can be used in your searches
  • provide links to a number of key information sources
  • provide guidelines on how to structure your literature review
  • give instruction on how to write critically and with authority

Complete a Request Research Advice form to get help from a librarian or academic skills advisor.

What is a literature review?

Broadly defined, a literature review is an analysis of the scholarly writings (the literature) which are relevant to your research topic. It usually forms the foundation of a research project (whether this is a research proposal, thesis, dissertation or a journal article) as it provides the context for your research. 

The overall purpose of a literature review is to: 

  • position your research in the context of the scholarly work that has been conducted and the knowledge that has been reached in your research area 
  • identify a gap in the existing knowledge 
  • situate your planned research within this context. This entails indicating where your planned research fits in relation to the gap and therefore why your research is original and significant. 

A literature review analyses relevant sources critically. It does not simply summarise different sources. It also needs to evaluate the literature. As such, a literature review differs from an annotated bibliography as it does not constitute a list of summaries of relevant sources. 

Strategies and Resources for Searching the Literature

The module will explore key resources to use when literature searching, and the features of developing an effective search strategy. There are learning activities throughout this module to help you with some practical searching.

Access the Strategies and Resources for Searching the Literature module.

If you are doing a Systematic Review then see the module Conducting a Systematic Review.