A literature review is not just a summary; you must discuss research methodology, show how it relates to other publications and how it relates to your own work. Good literature reviews answer these questions:
- What do you already know about the topic and its existing theories?
- What are the characteristics and relationships between key concepts or variables?
- Are there inconsistencies or other shortcomings in our current knowledge and understanding of the topic?
- Which evidence is lacking, inconclusive, contradictory, or otherwise limited?
- What is the expected contribution of the present study?
- Learn the anatomy of a scholarly article.
- Read and write with a purpose: remember to evaluate and demonstrate relationships between each author.
- Organize by key concepts, not chronologically by publication date (unless developments over time are critical to your theory).
- Don't try to read everything that was ever written about your idea. Instead, find the most relevant and significant work on your topic.
- Annotate each article as you read it with ideas about how it relates to previous findings.
- Remember to keep accurate citation information as you go along. Indicate where you have paraphrased an author's idea.