A Literature Review is a systematic and compressive analysis of books, scholarly articles and other sources relevant to a specific topic providing a base of knowledge on a topic. Literature reviews are designed to identify and critique the existing literature on a topic to justify your research by exposing gaps in current research. This investigation should provide a description, summary, and critical evaluation of works related to the research problem and should also add to the overall knowledge of the topic as well as demonstrating how your research will fit within a larger field of study. A literature review should offer critical analysis of the current research on a topic and that analysis should direct your research objective. This should not be confused with a book review or an annotated bibliography both research tools but very different in purpose and scope. A Literature Review can be a stand alone element or part of a larger end product, know your assignment. Key to a good Literature Review is to document your process.
One of your first steps to starting a Literature Review is to go to the library and meet with a Librarian. Subject Librarians know about your area of study and can assist you in finding topics, books and databases to get your research started.
There are many different ways to organize your references in a literature review, but most reviews contain certain basic elements.