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Research Paper Writing: 4. Literature Review

Importance of a Literature Review

A literature review is essentially an effective evaluation of materials on a research topic. A literature review can be formed by a part of the research process or may even constitute the project itself. The purpose usually provides a background to the research study being proposed. The literature review should make the research direction of the paper more explicit. The idea is to present only highly relevant information as well as, remove any acquired data that may not be needed. Many people that begin with this process typically has the idea that this is a process of gathering information from sources and documents, but this is only one part of the process. The second part is to evaluate the information found and present it within the paper. The literature review can act as a precursor in the introduction or can be the entire paper. During this process keep in mind that the literature review is a critical and in depth evaluation of previous research that has been found during the research process.

Reason for Delevoping a Literature Review

What makes a good literature review?

  • Is a mixture of available research
  • Is a critical evaluation
  • Has appropriate scope and depth
  • Has clarity and is short
  • Uses exact and reliable methods

What type of aspects?

  • Theoretical background – historical, current or forthcoming
  • Scientific practice – previous or modern
  • Methodology and/or research methods
  • Previous findings
  • Rationale and/or importance of the current study

What is the purpose?

  • Differentiate from what has been done from what needs to be done
  • Uncover the important variables of the theme
  • Synthesis and gain a new perception
  • Establish the situation of the problem
  • Enhance a subject vocabulary


The many reason the literature reviews may fail:

  • Confined to a description
  • Confusing 
  • Vagueness
  • Insufficient information
  • Irrelevant material

Literature Review Sample Page