Skip to main content

Bachelor of Applied Research (Honours) Guide: Literature review

This guide supports the Bachelor of Applied Research (Honours) course

What is a literature review

Now that you have defined your topic, the next step is to start a literature review. Literature reviews summarises, interprets and critically evaluates material that has already been published on a topic. The purpose is to establish current knowledge of a subject, identify gaps, inconsistencies and relations in the literature as well as outline areas for additional research and/or define a topic of inquiry.

If you are interested in further information about conducting literature reviews check out the Literature Review Guide.

Adopted from Charles Sturt University Library. (2017). Literature review.  Retrieved from

where to start a literature review

There are many different types of resources which might offer information on the topic you are researching, but you need to consider whether the source is scholarly or authoritative enough for a literature review. Typically literature reviews are conducted by using journal articles, conference papers, book chapters, websites or standards.  See the Sources of Information tab to get an overview of the different resources types and how to find them at CSU.

In addition, there is a range of new information sources that you may not have come across before, these are detailed in the sub tabs on: 

  • Internet resources
  • Tracking citation
  • Using Social Media
  • Interlibrary loans
  • Company and Industry Information

To keep your information organised, you might like to consider using a reference manager.  There are a number of different reference managers available to use, all have their own advantages and disadvantages. See the Write and Reference tab to find further information on CSU's bibliographic management software EndNote.

Systematic and systematic-like reviews

A systematic literature review (SLR) identifies, selects and critically appraises research in order to answer a clearly formulated question (Dewey, A. & Drahota, A. 2016). The systematic review should follow a clearly defined protocol or plan where the criteria is clearly stated before the review is conducted. It is a comprehensive, transparent search conducted over multiple databases and grey literature that can be replicated and reproduced by other researchers. It involves planning a well thought out search strategy which has a specific focus or answers a defined question. The review identifies the type of information searched, critiqued and reported within known timeframes. The search terms, search strategies (including database names, platforms, dates of search) and limits all need to be included in the review.

CSU library has produced a comprehensive guide for Systematic and systematic-like literature reviews. A comprehensive systematic literature review can often take a team of people up to a year to complete. This guide provides an overview of systematic reviews and provides a quiz to guide you to the best review for you to conduct.