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University of Newcastle Library Guides

Literature Reviews: What is a Literature Review?

This guide is an introduction to the Literature Review process - including its purpose and strategies, guidelines and resources to help you get started

What is a literature review?

A Literature review is a critical and in depth evaluation of previous research. It is a summary and synopsis of a particular area of research, allowing anybody reading the paper to establish why you are pursuing this particular research program. A good literature review expands upon the reasons behind selecting a particular research question.

Other Literature Review links:


Purpose of a literature review

The purpose of a literature review is to:

  • establish a theoretical framework for your topic / subject area
  • define key terms, definitions and terminology
  • identify studies, models, case studies etc supporting your topic
  • define / establish your area of study, ie your research topic.

The three key points of a literature review:

  • Tell me what the research says (theory).
  • Tell me how the research was carried out (methodology).
  • Tell me what is missing, ie the gap that your research intends to fill.


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