Writing a literature review

Depending on the discipline, a review of the literature may be:

  • a single chapter
  • segmented into a series of chapters on several topics
  • embedded in successive thematic chapters
  • a section of the introduction (in most theses there will be a short review here to justify the research, even when there is a longer review elsewhere).

This tutorial focuses on writing a chapter-length literature review. However, the five key points presented here will be useful for other forms of literature review:

A systematic review, as practised in clinical sciences and applied social science disciplines, has particular criteria for inclusion and exclusion, and particular conventions for writing the review. Systematic reviews are not dealt with here. See the Systematic Review library guide for more information.