Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Education - Literature Reviews

This guide outlines the purpose and process of a literature review and explains how to create search terms for conducting research on your topic.

Purpose and Process Of Literature Reviews


A literature review is an integral part of your thesis:

  1. It helps you gain a deeper understanding of your topic
    • It’s a chance for you to orient yourself in the ongoing discussion/conversation
  2. It helps you identify gaps in the current research
    • ​Which, in turn, helps you define your research question

A literature review is a critical engagement with the literature, the goal of which is to point out gaps in the field of interest and to promise to fill those gaps by engaging with your research question/topic. 


A literature review involves the following steps:

STEP 1: choose your topic

STEP 2: research and literature collection

STEP 3: evaluate, analyze, and critique what you discover

STEP 4: keep track of what you discover and keep track of your analysis of what you discover

STEP 5: write your literature review

This, however, is not a linear process! It's an iterative process; you will find yourself going back to previous steps as your knowledge of your research topic expands.

Also, keep in mind that this is not merely an annotated bibliography. Your goal here is to further synthesize what you find since your literature review will be your own conceptual map to your topic.