Writing a Literature Review

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Selecting the Literature

  • Have you clearly indicated the scope and purpose of the review?
  • Have you included a balanced coverage of what is available?
  • Have you included the most recent and relevant studies?
  • Have you included enough material to show the development and limitations in this area?
  • Have you indicated the source of the literature by referencing accurately?
  • Have you used mostly primary sources or appropriate secondary sources?

Critiquing Sources Found

  • Have you clearly (and logically) ordered and sorted the research, focusing on themes or ideas rather than the authors?
  • Does the review move from broader concepts to a more specific focus?
  • Is there adequate critique of research limitations, including design and methodology?
  • Are the studies compared and contrasted with controversies highlighted?
  • Is the relevance to your problem clear?

Summarizing & Interpreting

  • Have you made an overall interpretation of what is available?
  • Do the implications provide theoretical of empirical justification for your own research questions/hypothesis?
  • Do the implications provide a rationale for your own research design?


Sections on this guide are based on RMIT Literature Review Tutorial.