Writing a good literature review is one of the criteria for a good understanding of the project or research topic you are writing on; it also shows that you have studied and read a lot of books concerning the project or research topic you are given. A good understanding of the published work concerning the topic or question in your field will make it easy for you in writing your project or thesis. You can choose a format of your choice, including online sources. It can aslo be a separate assignment, or one of the introductory sections of a report, dissertation or thesis. In the former cases in particular, the review will be guided by your research objective or by the issue or thesis you are arguing and will provide the framework for your further work.
It is very important to note that your review for your project or research thesis should not be simply a description of what others have published in the form of a set of summaries, but should take the form of a critical discussion, showing insight and an awareness of differing arguments, theories and approaches. It should be a synthesis and analysis of the relevant published work, linked at all times to your own purpose and rationale.
According to Caulley (1992) of La Trobe University, the literature review should:
• compare and contrast different authors' views on an issue
• Group authors who draw similar conclusions
• criticize aspects of methodology
• note areas in which authors are in disagreement
• highlight exemplary studies
• highlight gaps in research or project topic
• show how your study relates to previous studies
• show how your study relates to the literature in general
• conclude by summarising what the literature says
The purposes of the project or research thesis review are:
• To define and limit the problem you are working on
• To place your study in an historical perspective
• To avoid unnecessary duplication
• To evaluate promising research methods
• To relate your findings to previous knowledge and suggest further research
A good literature review, is just restatement of what has been written, identifies areas of controversy, raises questions and identifies areas which need further research.