A literature review should try to answer questions such as:
1. Who are the key researchers on this topic?
2. What has been the focus of the research efforts so far and what is the current status?
3. How have certain studies built on prior studies? Where are the connections? Are there new interpretations of the research?
4. Have there been any controversies or debate about the research? Is there consensus? Are there any contradictions?
5. Which areas have been identified as needing further research? Have any pathways been suggested?
6. How will your topic uniquely contribute to this body of knowledge?
7. Which methodologies have researchers used and which appear to be the most productive?
8. What sources of information or data were identified that might be useful to you?
9. How does your particular topic fit into the larger context of what has already been done?
10. How has the research that has already been done help frame your current investigation?
The Scholarly Conversation:
A literature review provides an overview of previous research on a topic that critically evaluates, classifies, and compares what has already been published on a particular topic. It allows the author to synthesize and place into context the research and scholarly literature relevant to the topic. It forms the foundation for the author’s subsequent research and justifies the significance of the new investigation.
A literature review can be a short introductory section of a research article, report or policy paper that focuses on recent research, or, in the case of dissertations, theses, and review articles, it can be an extensive review of all relevant research.