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What is a literature review?
A literature review is:
- A list of books and journal articles,
- on a specific topic,
- grouped by theme,
- and evaluated with regard to your research. This evaluation would identify connections, contradictions and gaps in the literature you have found.
The purpose of a literature review, therefore, is:
- To get a feel for the agreed academic opinion on the subject (the connections).
- To discover the disagreements on the subject (the contradictions).
- To find opportunities, (the gaps), for developing and expressing your own opinions.
Selected reference titles
This section lists resources which may be of help in writing your literature review.
How to Write a Thesis by
Call Number: 808.066378 ECO
Publication Date: 2015-03-06
Risk in Academic Writing by
Call Number: 808.02 RISK
Publication Date: 2013-12-11
Complete Your Thesis and Dissertation Successfully by
Call Number: 808.066378 COMP
Publication Date: 2013-01-01
How to Write a Thesis by
Call Number: RC 808.023 MURR
Publication Date: 2011-03-01
How to succeed in your master’s and doctoral studies : a South African guide and resource book by
Call Number: 808.023 MOUT
Publication Date: 2001
Purposes of a literature review
The function and format of your literature review will depend on your academic level (eg undergraduate assignment, Masters dissertation or PhD thesis).
Your review could be:
- essentially descriptive and topic focused
- analytical and summative; OR
- an analytical synthesis covering all known literature on the problem
Keeping track of reading materials - referencing skills
A literature review is dependent on what other authors have said, so it is important that good referencing skills are developed from the beginning.
Referencing management programs can be used to:
- store bibliographic records (details of books, chapters, journal articles, websites, conference papers, theses, reports, etc) and attachments (such as PDF files, images, links and personal notes)
- automatically generate citations and bibliographies in a number of standard referencing formats (eg Harvard, APA, Chicago)
- search and retrieve bibliographic records from library catalogues and journal indexing databases
- retrieve resources from Google Scholar
The University Library has licenses for three referencing products:
There are also free and subscription reference management programs available on the web or for loading onto your computer. These include:
More information: go to the Managing References guide.