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Research Support: Literature Review

The library provides research support to all postgraduate students and researchers

What is a literature Review?

In essence, it is a summary of previously published work in a given discipline or on a certain subject. A literature  review is NOT

  • just a summary of sources
  • a grouping of broad, unrelated sources
  • a compilation of everything that has been written on a particular topic (University of West Florida Libraries)

A literature review must do the following:

  1. Be organized around and related directly to the thesis or research question you are developing
  2. Synthesize results into a summary of what is and is not known
  3. Identify areas of controversy in the literature
  4. Formulate questions that need further research
  5. Include sources from multiple perspectives

Why is a Literature Review important?

  • explains the history of the subject's research.
  • demonstrates  why a topic is important to a certain field of study.
  • helps focus your own research questions or problems
  • discovers relationships between research studies/ideas.
  • suggests unexplored ideas or populations
  • identifies major themes, concepts, and researchers on a topic.
  • tests assumptions; may help counter preconceived ideas and remove unconscious bias.
  • identifies critical gaps, points of disagreement, or potentially flawed methodology or theoretical approaches.
  • indicates potential directions for future research.

Planning your literature review

Books on Literature Review

Literature Review: an overview for Post-Graduate students

University of Zululand Library Guides