Generally speaking, a literature review is an analysis of existing scholarly publications that directly relate to your research question.
The purpose of a literature review is to:
It may sometimes be more helpful to think about what a literature review is not:
Different Types of Literature Reviews
Literature Reviews are most often included in research papers but they can also be stand-alone works. Lit reviews types vary, so it is important for you to know and follow the guidelines for your assignment.
Here are the most common types of Literature Reviews:
Developing a Literature review
Road map to YOUR research
Mostly developed from secondary literature to demonstrate how the thinking around a topic has developed
Typically not used –as such– in humanities research, but there are very close analogues like historiography, reviews of literature in literary studies, and in philosophy –esp in the subarea of history of philosophy/intellectual history
Think of an introductory chapter and the background information, but organized a little differently
Shift in nature, however, as science lit reviews cluster by type
Some scientific statement relevant to the research, typically some finding that leads to an important threshold concept (Smith 1997, Otelle 1999, Callahan 2001, Fong, 2019)
In humanities, we tend to be a little more verbose for the same thing: as Otelle said in her 1999 work Title of Important Work, the important concept is indeed important.
Social sciences like Psychology would be a very close fitting of the two notions as it has historically been grounded in both theory and practice
Computer science is an area that will have more of the ‘hard science’ lit review methods
NOT a comprehensive dive into the subject, but a map of the important work that gets to where your work comes in. You don’t have to teach people all about Hegel, but the idea is to demonstrate the development of an aspect of Hegel studies by looking at, for example Marxist interpretations down to today’s more materialist studies and more.