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“What do researchers know? What do they not know? What has been researched and what has not been researched? Is the research reliable and trustworthy? Where are the gaps in the knowledge? When you compile all that together, you have yourself a literature review.”  ― Jim OllhoffHow to Write a Literature Review

What is a literature review?

There are two main purposes to undertaking a literature review:

  • To show awareness of the present state of knowledge in a particular field, including:
    • seminal authors
    • the main empirical research
    • theoretical positions
    • controversies
    • breakthroughs as well as links to other related areas of knowledge.
  • To provide a foundation for the author’s research.  The literature review should:
    • help the researcher define a hypothesis or a research question, and how answering the question will contribute to the body of knowledge;
    • provide a rationale for investigating the problem and the selected methodology;
    • provide a particular theoretical lens, support the argument, or identify gaps.

Further information and resources on writing your literature review can be found in the Learning Lab.


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