UTS Library

Literature Reviews

In this guide:

What is a literature review?

A literature review is a descriptive and analytic summary of the relevant literature on a particular research field. It gives an overview of key findings, concepts, and developments about a research problem or question. A good literature review doesn’t just summarise sources—it aims to:

  • Analyse, interpret and critically evaluate the literature
  • Synthesise sources to highlight patterns, themes, conflicts, and gaps
  • Show the state of current knowledge to a central research question or hypothesis

The “literature” is a collection of relevant scholarly sources, such as journal articles, conference papers, books, theses, government documents. Your literature review does not need to be inclusive of every publication, but the key sources.

Why do we do a literature review?

  • To see what has and has not been investigated, what came before, and what did and didn't work for other researchers.
  • To identify critical gaps, points of disagreement, or potentially flawed methodology or theoretical approaches.
  • To discover relationships between research studies/ideas.
  • To learn how others have defined and measured key concepts.
  • To develop alternative research projects.
  • To put your work in perspective.
  • To contribute to the field by moving research forward. 
  • To demonstrate your understanding and your ability to evaluate research in the field critically.
  • To provide evidence that may be used to support your findings.

Books about literature review

Examples of literature review