This guide provides an overview of the literature review process including useful tips and advice on effective searching and managing of resources. The guide is intended as a starting point for any student or researcher new to the literature review process.
You may have heard of a number of different types of literature review. Common terms include:
There are a number of organisations, such as the international Cochrane and Campbell Collaborations, and the Joanna Briggs Institute which support the conduct of systematic reviews in health, social welfare, criminal justice and education (see the Systematic Reviews tab for more information).
For the purposes of this guide, we will focus on general principles that apply to anyone (from any discipline) conducting a good-quality literature review.
A literature review can be defined as follows:
A critical summary and assessment of the range of existing materials dealing with knowledge and understanding in a given field … Its purpose is to locate the research project, to form its context or background, and to provide insights into previous work
(The SAGE Dictionary of Social Research Methods 2006)
Jupp, V 2006, 'Literature review', The SAGE Dictionary of Social Research Methods, SAGE Publications, London
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A reference management tool such as Endnote is highly recommended for those conducting a literature review. For help with Endnote, as well as information on how to book into one of the Endnote training workshops run by the Library, visit http://libraryguides.vu.edu.au/endnote/trainingandhelp