Description of Literature Review


Literature review involves compiling and evaluating the systematic identification, location, and analysis of a certain topic or issue being researched on and writing about it. It should be broad since its main objective is to acquire detailed knowledge of a topic of study (Hart, 2018). A literature review is essential in executing student projects, dissertations, and research studies. In most cases, a topic being researched is often fairly narrowed and focused upon posing a difficulty to appreciate the research subject in relation to other similar study areas. Therefore, a literature review helps in the growth of knowledge and appreciation of the sequential way of doing things. 

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In scholar work, a literature review is the most important aspect as it reflects the level of scholarship of the researcher in terms of the quality (Boote & Beile, 2005). Quality literature reviews are rare to find in the many types of research that are done. Some of them even lack the resemblance of a typical literature review. An effective review facilitates theory development, covers areas where research already exists, and discloses areas where there is research necessity. 

 A literature review is important in the development of research project for the following reasons:

  1. It assists in the selection and classification of a research problem in cases where researchers may have failed to narrow down a research topic. This is done by defining better and limiting the research problem.
  2. A literature review is useful in identifying the conceptual framework of the research study. This eases the interpretation of findings.
  3. It helps in justifying the proposed methodology of the study. The strategies, procedures, and measuring instruments used in investigating the problem are revealed using the literature review.
  4. Using a literature review, it opens suggestions to using other procedures and approaches that are useful in investigating the problem
  5. To eliminate unnecessary and or unintended duplication, literature review assists in highlighting the state of the problem 
  6. Lastly, it is essential in demonstrating the study preparation to comprehensively complete the research.

                            The Scope of the Literature Review

In a literature review, determining the precise scope is important as this identifies common questions of a research topic (Webster & Watson, 2002). These questions include

  1. What exactly is the coverage area in your review?
  2. How detailed and comprehensive will it be? When should the reviewing end?
  3. Will you focus on theoretical issues – on qualitative, quantitative research, or methodological approaches?

These are part of significant questions that determine the scope of the literature review. Using the experience, they are easily answered.  Moreover, there exist the following useful hints that determine the scope:

  1. In cases where there is a long-time study on a certain area of interest, there exists a huge body of literature thus, a researcher should consider reading studies closely related to the research topic.
  2. A research in new or less researched areas that require depth requires a researcher to develop a logical study framework, and an appropriate hypothesis by reviewing any relevant material.


Generally, on developing a research project, the literature review addresses the following issues the research type, present results, and conclusions and identify the literature gaps present that need further inquiry. The significance of a research topic determines the main focus of a literature review. The use of bibliographies and references in reviewing, ease locating relative searches.


Hart, C. (2018). Doing a Literature Review: Releasing the Research Imagination. Sage.

Boote, D. N., & Beile, P. (2005). Scholars before researchers: On the centrality of the dissertation literature review in research preparation. Educational Researcher34(6), 3-15.Webster, J., & Watson, R. T. (2002). Analyzing the past to prepare for the future: Writing a literature review. MIS quarterly, xiii-xxiii.

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