Why write a literature
new theories don't materialise easily out of nowhere; they build upon
the findings of previous academic research and explorations. A
literature review illustrates how the academic investigation you are
conducting fits with what has been written before and puts it into
perspective. A literature review demonstrates to your reader that you
are able to:
• Understand and critically analyse the background research
• Select and source the information that is necessary to
develop a context for your research
• Shows how your investigation relates to previous research
• Reveals the contribution that your investigation makes to
• Provides evidence that may help explain your findings later
If you are doing a dissertation, or significant assignment it is likely
that you will need to include a literature review. If you are doing a
lab write-up or a shorter report, some background reading may be
required to give context to your work, but this is usually included as
an analysis in the introduction and discussion sections.
is a literature review?
literature review is an analysis of existing research which is relevant
to your research topic, demonstrating how it relates to your
investigation. It explains and justifies how your investigation may
help answer some of the questions or gaps in this area of research. A
literature review is not a straightforward summary of everything you
have read on the topic and it is not a chronological description of
what was discovered in your field. A longer literature review may have
headings to help group the relevant research into themes or topics.
This gives a focus to your analysis, as you can group similar studies
together and compare and contrast their approaches, any weaknesses or
strengths in their methods, and their findings.
One common way to approach a literature review is to start out broad
and then become more specific. Think of it as an inverted triangle. (1)
First briefly explain the broad issues related to your investigation;
you don't need to write much about this, just demonstrate that you are
aware of the breadth of your subject (2) Then narrow your focus to deal
with the studies that overlap with your research. (3) Finally, hone in
on any research which is directly related to your specific
investigation. Proportionally you spend most time discussing those
studies which have most direct relevance to your research. How do I get
started? Start by identifying what you will need to know to inform your
• What research has already been done on this topic?
• What are the sub-areas of the topic you need to explore?
• What other research (perhaps not directly on the topic)
might be relevant to your investigation?
• How do these sub-topics and other research overlap with your
Note down all your initial thoughts on the topic. You can use a list to
help you identify the areas
you want to investigate further. It is
important to do this before you start reading so that you don't waste
time on unfocussed and irrelevant reading.
Searching for sources
easy to think that the best way to search for texts is to use the
Internet - to 'Google it'. There are useful online tools that you may
use, like Google Scholar. However, for most literature reviews you will
need to focus on academically authoritative texts like academic books,
journals, research reports, government publications. Searching Google
will give you thousands of hits, few of them authoritative, and you
will waste time sorting through them. A better idea is to use
databases. These are available through the Library in paper and
electronic (usually online) forms.
- Marketing Strategy
- HRM Practices
- Business Strategy
- TESCO Management
- International Business
- Building Studies
- International Finance
- Global Business
- Employee Relations
Branding, Advertising, PEST, SWOT, Consumer Behaviour, Marketing
New MBA Dissertations
Business Strategy, Organisational Behaviour, Management
Strategy, International Business...
New HRM Dissertations
Employee Motivation, CIPD, Human Resource Mangement Dissertations,
Staff Turnover, Training and Development...
New Building Studies
Construction, Building Regulations, Health and Safety, Project
New IT Computing
Computer Science, Systems Developement, e-Commerce,