Generally, the purpose of a review is to analyze critically a segment of a published body of knowledge through summary, classification, and comparison of prior research studies, reviews of literature, and theoretical articles.
For example, editorials, letters to the editor, book reviews, and other types of information don’t count as articles, and may not be accepted by your professor.
How do you determine whether an article qualifies as being a peer-reviewed journal article?
First, you need to be able to identify which journals are peer-reviewed.
The format of a review of literature may vary from discipline to discipline and from assignment to assignment.
An important strategy for learning how to compose literature reviews in your field or within a specific genre is to locate and analyze representative examples.
The following collection of annotated sample literature reviews written and co-written by colleagues associated with UW-Madison showcases how these reviews can do different kind of work for different purposes.Written in essay style, a literature review (Lit Review) describes, classifies, and evaluates the sources of information published on a given topic. It’s a review of a collection of research published by accredited scholars and researchers that is relevant to a research question.“Non-scholarly” sources, i.e., those you don’t want to reference, include but are not limited to magazines, newspapers, web sites, and non-published material.In the body, you should: Group research studies and other types of literature (reviews, theoretical articles, case studies, etc.) according to common denominators such as qualitative versus quantitative approaches, conclusions of authors, specific purpose or objective, chronology, etc.Summarize individual studies or articles with as much or as little detail as each merits according to its comparative importance in the literature, remembering that space (length) denotes significance.For further information see our handouts on Writing a Critical Review of a Nonfiction Book or Article or Reading a Book to Review It.To learn more about literature reviews, take a look at our workshop on Writing Literature Reviews of Published Research.How much sense does your research make if you don’t provide background to the reader about past research conducted by others? A Lit Review provides your reader with a survey of the professional publications available on your topic.It demonstrates that you have not only thoroughly researched your topic but also carefully examined and critically evaluated the range of relevant sources.Point out overall trends in what has been published about the topic; or conflicts in theory, methodology, evidence, and conclusions; or gaps in research and scholarship; or a single problem or new perspective of immediate interest.Establish the writer’s reason (point of view) for reviewing the literature; explain the criteria to be used in analyzing and comparing literature and the organization of the review (sequence); and, when necessary, state why certain literature is or is not included (scope).