The Literature Review: Home

About this guide

​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.

Types of literature reviews

You may have heard of a number of different types of literature review. Common terms include:

  • literature review
  • scoping review
  • systematic review
  • narrative review
  • meta-analysis, and
  • rapid review

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

Principles of a good literature review

  • A literature review involves defining the topic, identifying sources, evaluating the sources, synthesising and reporting.
  • Aims to provide the author with a solid understanding of the key principles and theories in their chosen subject area
  • Aims to identify what is already known, and to identify gaps in the evidence base to provide a starting point for new research
  • The key element of any literature review is a critical analysis or assessment of the literature.




College of Arts & Education  

Victoria University Business School

College of Engineering and Science    

College of Health & Biomedicine   

College of Law & Justice 

College of Sport and Exercise Science

VU College


Endnote support

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