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Literature Review

An examination of current thinking. It is undertaken when you are investigating or researching a particular academic subject.

5 things you need to know...

1.  Be clear about the area you want to research - You need a specific title, aims and objectives.

2.  Decide on what you need to read - Set yourself some constraints (inclusion criteria) for instance think about: date published, country of origin, which websites are valid?

3.  Write in the academic style - You are stating what other people have found out about a particular subject, consequently you will be including lots of citations in your work, and will have a substantial reference list.  

4.  Use the correct format.

  1. Introduction - Why this subject is important to investigate?
  2. Methodology (or inclusion/exclusion criteria) - What have you have done to find published work?  Why did you choose to read the work you did?  Why did you reject some authors?  Where did you look for information?  Why?
  3. Findings - What have you found out?  Plan your work into a logical sequence.
  4. Be critical - Highlight exemplary studies.  Are there authors who you think are more scientific than others, more relevant to your objectives? Do some authors deserve more credence than others?  Are there gaps in the research?  Justify your comments.
  5. Conclusion - After doing all the research what do you conclude?  What is the current thinking?  

5.  Contact your Subject Librarian who can help you to develop an effective search strategy.

Need to know more...

We have produced resources to help you to develop your skills in this area.  You will find a factsheet on this topic below, plus others you may find useful.  See also the Online and Books tabs above.  

Related factsheets

Hodgkinson, G. and  Ford,  K. (2015)  What makes excellent literature reviews excellent?  A clarification of some common mistakes and misconceptions.  Journal of OrganiZational Behaviour36 (S1) p.S1 - S5.   (Accessed 2 September 2019)


THE UNC WRITING CENTRE (2015) Literature reviews. (Accessed: 2 September 2019)

There are many books in the library about this subject . Look around Dewey number 808.066

Need more advice?

You can also discuss your development of this skill with a member of the Academic Skills Team.

Make an appointment for an online discussion or email support  by using our online booking form.

Personalising your device and using assistive tools

There are many assistive technology tools which can help you choose how you want to access material and these can really improve your productivity.

The University has made some applications available on the student PCs within the library and IT Centres; others are free for you to download and use on your own devices (phone, tablet, laptop or computer) .  Find out more on our personalising standard software guide and our assistive tools and software guide.