What is the purpose or aim of the literature review?

A literature review, as part of a thesis or for any other publication, should demonstrate your knowledge of the research has been conducted in the past and should place your research in the context of this work. A thesis is an original and significant piece of work that adds to the body of knowledge in a particular field. A literature review can have a number of purposes within a thesis. These include:

  • demonstrating and clarify your understanding of your field of research;
  • identifying patterns and trends in the literature;
  • identifying gaps in the literature and seek new lines of inquiry;
  • identifying similarities and differences in previous research and place you work in perspective;
  • justifying your own research;
  • increasing your breadth of knowledge of your subject area;
  • identifying seminal and influential published works in your field;
  • identifying relevant journals, publishers and conferences to search;
  • providing the intellectual context for your own work, enabling you to position your project relative to other work;
  • identifying experts working in your field (a researcher network is a valuable resource);
  • carrying on from where others have already reached

Randolph, J. J. (2009) A guide to writing the dissertation literature review. Practical Assessment Research & Evaluation. 14(13) 1-13

Sage Research Methods Online - Stream videos

The Sage Research Methods Online database has a number of quality resources to support you with writing your literature review.

These are just a selection to try:

Jensen, E. (2017). An introduction to literature reviews [Streaming video]. Retrieved from SAGE Research Methods.

O'Leary, Z. (2017). Am i the only one struggling to write a literature review [Streaming video]. Retrieved from SAGE Research Methods.