How to write a literature review

Literature reviews are commonly required for masters and doctoral theses, if not to form part of the finished thesis itself, then as part of the process of formulating the thesis project, identifying key figures to engage with, and establishing an appropriate methodology and critical framework.

A good literature review should indicate:

1. That you have identified quality sources that are significant for your project.

2. That you have identified all known sources of material that are relevant directly to the subject of your research.

3. That you are familiar with quality literature that relates to parallel studies of similar topics, but in a different period or geographical or cultural context.

4. That you have located material which discusses appropriate methodologies for carrying out your research.

5. That you have a bibliography which indicates that you have exhausted the normal finding aids for scholarly articles, books and other resources.

6. That in your reading of this material you have identified what are the key critical issues, what is the state of scholarship on the topic, and what are the options for a critical framework which will enable you analyse what is going on.

References and links

Chris Hart, Doing a literature review : releasing the social science research imagination. London: Sage Publications, 1998.