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Research Guide: Literature review

This Guide provides post graduate students with the tips and tools necessary to successfully complete their research.

Literature review

A literature review can be described as an examination of the existing research publications on the topic area of a new study, to discuss their theorizing, research designs, data collection methods, findings, strengths, limitations and contexts as relevant to the new study. This often includes the researcher’s own views, observations and alternative explanations to the findings as to what other factors may have given rise to those findings.


  • Read the most relevant work to your thesis topic, don’t try to read everything.
  • Your first draft will not be perfect, so it is important to write as many drafts as you can to refine your ideas. Do not merely read and not write anything as you go along.
  • Keep full bibliographic information of every source, failure to do so can easily lead to you plagiarizing other researchers’ work.
  • Organize your literature review by ideas rather than just organizing it chronologically.  In this way, it shows that you have analyzed and evaluated your sources and found commonalities among them.
  • Keep your literature review focused; this can be done by remembering the purpose of your study

Helpful Databases and Websites

Dimensions database

Have a look at Dimensions - a great database with excellent search features.

See our short introduction video on how to use it. 

Recommended books