A literature review is an examination of the research that has
been conducted in a particular field of study.
Hart (1998) defines it as “the selection of available
documents (both published and unpublished) on the topic,
which contain information, ideas, data and evidence. This
selection is written from a particular standpoint to fulfill
certain aims or express certain views on the nature of the
topic and how it is to be investigated, and the effective
evaluation of these documents in relation to the research
THE REVIEW OF LITERATURE IS...
THE SELECTION OF AVAILABLE DOCUMENTS ON THE
TOPIC (what other authors/researchers have said about your
topic, including their arguments and ideas)
THE EFFECTIVE EVALUATION OF THESE DOCUMENTS
(your point of view on their research)
* To demonstrate your scholarly ability to identify relevant
information and to outline existing knowledge.
* To identify the 'gap' in the research that your study is
attempting to address, positioning your work in the context
of previous research and creating a 'research space' for your
* To evaluate and synthesize the information in line with the
concepts that you have set yourself for the research.
* To produce a justification or rationale of your study.
THE PURPOSE OF THE REVIEW OF LITERATURE IS...
Just like most academic papers, literature reviews also must
contain at least three basic elements:
a. An introduction or background information section.
It gives a quick idea of the topic of the literature review, such
as the central theme or organizational pattern.
b. The body of the review
Contains your discussion of sources and is organized either
chronologically, thematically, or methodologically.
c. Conclusions and/or recommendations
Discuss what you have understood after reviewing what other
authors have said.
A literature review is usually organized around ideas, not the
sources themselves. This means that you will not just simply
list your sources and go into detail about each one of them,
one at a time. No.
Create a thematic organizational method by organizing the
articles you find into topics and subtopics. Then, develop the
review based on what they have in common.
MY REVIEW OF INSTRUCTIONAL APPLICATION OF COGNITIVE
FILM THEORY IN UPPER DIVISION SPANISH
This research project will
explore how cognitive film
theory enables foreign
language students to
comprehend and reflect on
foreign cinema (specifically,
cinema from Spain), while
fostering communication and
improving the students’
listening, oral, reading and
writing skills. This literature
review will address three main
areas: the history and evolution
of Spanish cinema, implications
of using foreign films in the
second language classroom,
and principles and application
of cognitive film theory in the
Once you've settled on a general pattern of
organization, you're ready to write each section.
There are a few guidelines you should follow during
the writing stage as well.
The student-researcher needs to refer to several
other sources when making their point. A literature
review in this sense is just like any other academic
research paper. Your interpretation of the available
sources must be backed up with evidence to show
that what you are saying is valid.
Select only the most important points in each
source to highlight in the review. The type of
information you choose to mention should relate
directly to the review's thematical focus.
Some short quotes here and there are okay.
However, if you want to emphasize a point, or if
what the author said just cannot be rewritten in
your own words, make sure you use quotations.
Sometimes you need to quote certain terms that
were coined by the author, but not common
Remember to summarize and synthesize your
sources within each paragraph as well as
throughout the review. Rephrase (use your own
words) whenever possible to state what the authors
While the literature review presents others' ideas,
your voice (the writer's) should remain front and
center. Maintain your own voice by starting and
ending the paragraph with your own ideas and your
When paraphrasing a source that is not your own,
be sure to represent the author's information or
opinions accurately and in your own words. Avoid
plagiarism by using the appropriate APA citation
Draft in hand? Now you're ready to revise. Spending a lot
of time revising is a wise idea, because your main
objective is to present the material, not the argument.
Then, just as you would for most other academic forms
of writing, rewrite or rework the language of your review
so that you've presented your information in the most
concise manner possible. Be sure to use terminology
familiar to your audience; get rid of unnecessary jargon
or slang. Finally, double check that you've documented
your sources and formatted the review appropriately for
The Writing Center (2007). Literature reviews.
Retrieved April 16, 2009 from University of North
Carolina at Chapel Hill, Web
The Learning Center (2009, March 24). Getting
started on your literature review. Retrieved April 16, 2009
from The University of New South Wales, Web