WHAT IS A LITERATURE REVIEW?
Not to be confused with a book review, a literature review surveys scholarly articles, books and other sources (e.g. dissertations, conference proceedings, reports) relevant to a particular issue, area of research, or theory, providing a description, summary, and critical evaluation of each work. The purpose is to offer an overview of and background on significant literature published on a topic.
Similar to primary research, development of the literature review requires four stages:
Literature reviews should comprise the following elements:
A literature review may constitute an essential chapter of a thesis or dissertation, or may be a self-contained review of writings on a subject. In either case, its purpose is to:
The literature review itself, however, does not present new primary scholarship.
More sources on Literature Reviews:
The term sources refer to print, electronic or visual materials necessary for your research. Sources are classified into primary, secondary and tertiary.
Note: Sometimes, secondary sources can be considered primary sources depending on context. For example, an academic article about Mexican migration during the Mexican Revolution written during that period can be used as primary sources to document the "contemporary thinking" of that period. In the sciences, an academic article reporting the findings of a major study can be considered a primary source because it is reporting findings.
To learn more about sources you can visit,http://www.lib.umd.edu/guides/primary-sources.html
Literature reviews use a combination of primary and secondary sources since the purpose is to document and analyze what has been published on any given topic through time.
Tutorial video created by Vanderbilt University showing the differences between scholarly journals and popular magazines.