This guide is written for undergraduates and postgraduate, course work students who are doing their first literature review.
Higher degree research candidates and academic researchers, please also refer to the Resources for Researchers library guides for more detailed information on writing theses and systematic reviews.
A literature review is an examination of research in a particular field.
You may be asked to complete a literature review that is done in a systematic way, that is like a systematic review.
Mostly, the literature review you will be asked to do will be integrative – that is, conclusions are drawn from the literature in order to create something new, such as a new hypothesis to address a question, a solution to a complex problem, a new workplace procedure or training program.
Some elements of what you are asked to do may be like a systematic review, particularly in health fields.
Systematic approach does not mean a systematic review.
A true systematic review is a complex research project:
For more information have a look at the Systematic Review library guide.
If you would like to know more about different types of reviews, have a look at the document below:
At the core of a literature review is a synthesis of the research.
While both analysis and synthesis are involved, synthesis goes beyond analysis and is a higher order thinking.(Bloom's taxonomy).
Looking at the diagram below, it is evident that synthesis goes well beyond just analysis.
Watch this short clip from Utah State University which defines how to go about achieving synthesis.
Synthesis: True or False.
Quick Quiz: check your understanding of synthesis from the video by deciding which of these statements are true or false.