Skip to main content

FYP Guide: Literature Review

This guide lists essential Library services for students doing their Final Year Project (FYP).

Introduction

What is a Literature Review?

A literature review is a systematic analysis and summary of the published academic writings directly relating to your topic of research. It should provide the reader with background information on your topic, and explain the significance of your research, and how your research relates to the rest of the academic publications on the topic. 

This section will guide you on what a literature review is and is not, why you need a literature review, and how you should go about getting started with your literature review. 

Be sure to check out the below links with more details on how to evaluate the sources for your literature review as well as the usage of grey literature in your literature review!

Accessing Resources not found in NTU Library

What a Literature Review is NOT

Take note that a literature review forms the basis and provides background information about your research - some common mistakes students make is when they write a literature review that fails to meet its purpose.

Your literature review should NOT be an annotated bibliography, where you list and summarize a number of articles or academic works about your research topic. The literature review should identify important academic developments of your topic, and analyze them, so as to situate your own research in this background.

Your literature review should also NOT provide only a biased view, where you only choose articles that support your findings. Remember that a literature review needs to provide a picture of how the academic debate surrounding your research topic as developed, as well as areas that are being debated, so that you can position your research within the context of the wider academic discussion.

Searching for resources

Getting Started on your Literature Review

Four major steps:

1.Problem definition

  • identify a research problem or idea
  • formulate research questions
  • identify relevant KEYWORDS


2.Search strategies

  • identify your information needs
  • develop information seeking strategies
  • identify relevant information sources
  • use KEYWORDS to conduct searches
  • retrieve relevant articles, books, etc.


3.Analysis

  • review and summarise articles
  • take detailed notes
  • focus on identifying and comparing issues, variables, theories, methods and gaps
  • extract key information and tabulate key items in a matrix or summarised fashion


4.Writing

  • include pertinent variables, main issues and theories
  • analyse how your study relates to the available literature
  • highlight gaps in research works
  • compare and contrast studies and findings
  • create a list of references - a BIBLIOGRAPHY
     

Research Mindset

Purpose of a Literature Review


Research is not done in a vacuum or in isolation.
It has to be positioned into the existing scholarly work.

The researcher needs to know what has already been covered in his/her field of research, like:

  • what variables were analysed?
  • what were the relationships amongst the variables?
  • what are the existing definitions, theories and findings?


Purpose of literature review

  • to explore the works of others
  • to look at existing relevant works in your research area
  • to identify important variables from other studies pertinent to your research
  • to identify gaps, misconceptions, contradictions in the issues relevant to your research
  • to assist in developing your research design

 

Literature review is an essential entity in research and is a part of:

  • dissertations
  • reports
  • proposals
  • papers