A literature review is a critical overview of what has already been researched on a particular topic. A literature review provides a recap of current knowledge of a topic and identifies relevant theories, methods, and finds gaps where further research needs to be conducted.
Use this tipsheet to help you conduct the literature review portion of your project.
"A literature review is not an academic research paper, an annotated bibliography, or a report on original research. Unlike an academic research paper, the main focus of a literature review is not to develop a new argument. A literature review is an overview of a topic that shows the reader what research has been done on that subject. A literature review may build on an annotated bibliography, but it does more than just summarize each article; a literature review should compare and contrast the ideas each article contains, highlight interesting trends and inconsistencies within the research, and suggest future research that is needed on the topic."
What does 'synthesizing the literature' means? When an individual 'synthesizes the literature' that person compares themes, methods, findings, and inconsistencies across the sources found when researching. Doing this enables the person to show how the articles either differ or relate to one another. Analyzing and organizing different perspectives, ideas, and methods across different sources can be difficult. Using a synthesis matrix can help you organize the main concepts of each source so it's easier to compare the sources to each other.
Some things to consider when 'synthesizing literature':