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Postgraduate Study: Literature reviews

Writing a literature review

In tertiary studies, Literature Reviews can take different forms:

  • One section of an assignment
  • A literature review assignment set by a lecturer asking for an overview of key ideas from literature (books, journal articles, and web articles) on a particular topic. This could be an assignment for a research methods course.
  • A section of a research proposal that outlines key ideas from academic literature (books, journal articles, web articles) relevant to the topic you plan to research. The review shows that you are familiar with key work previously done on the topic,often by experts in the topic.
  • A chapter in a thesis or dissertation which reviews the literature relevant to the research question(s)

Before you start it’s useful to identify which type of literature review you are being asked to do. Resources on this page will all be useful. Ask questions to clarify which type of literature review your lecturer / supervisor is expecting.

Getting started with your literature review - presentation

Example of a Literature Review

Here's an example of a Literature Review from the field of Communication / Applied Linguistics. Note that the referencing system used is different from systems used at Unitec. 

Your lecturer may have some different expectations for a literature review, but it's likely that the Introduction, Body, Conclusion structure will be required, as well as the division of the topic into different themes / issues / subtopics. Note the way that the writer analyses, compares and contrasts and critically evaluates information and ideas from her sources. 

 

More examples of different types of literature reviews can be found via  Unitec LibrarySearch.

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Literature reviews

This video from a US university (North Carolina State University) provides an overview of what a literature review is. It also discusses what the term 'literature' refers to and outlines some steps in the process of writing a literature review.

Useful links

  • The Literature Review tutorial from RMIT provides very clear information about literature review preparation and writing.  It focuses on what literature is, and the reading, organisation and writing tasks that literature review writers need to carry out. 
  • For definitions, components and examples of literature reviews, visit the Unitec Library subscription to Sage Research Methods.

Books