In essence, a literature review identifies, evaluates and synthesises the relevant literature within a particular field of research. It illuminates how knowledge has evolved within the field, highlighting what has already been done, what is generally accepted, what is emerging and what is the current state of thinking on the topic. In addition, within research-based texts such as a Doctoral thesis, a literature review identifies a research gap i. However, your literature review does not need to be inclusive of every article and book that has been written on your topic because that will be too broad. Rather, it should include the key sources related to the main debates, trends and gaps in your research area.
Literature Reviews – The Writing Center • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
The purpose of a review paper is to succinctly review recent progress in a particular topic. Overall, the paper summarizes the current state of knowledge of the topic. It creates an understanding of the topic for the reader by discussing the findings presented in recent research papers. A review paper is not a "term paper" or book report. It is not merely a report on some references you found.
Writing a literature review for a research paper is a daunting task because it takes lots of time and effort. It involves listing, analyzing, concluding, and summarizing all useful academic sources used to write a research paper. These will include books, journals, case studies, magazines, online sources, and any other approved academic sources to get information for your assignment.
A literature review is an integrated analysis-- not just a summary-- of scholarly writings that are related directly to your research question. That is, it represents the literature that provides background information on your topic and shows a correspondence between those writings and your research question. A literature review may be a stand alone work or the introduction to a larger research paper, depending on the assignment.