Skip to main content

Literature Reviews: Home

An introduction to the Literature Review process and resources to help you get started.

The Literature Review Process


A Literature Review

  • investigates and appraises material that has been written on a particular topic
  • can serve as a framework for an ensuing study or piece of research, such as a thesis.
  • raises questions and identify areas to be explored.

This guide will:

The University of Melbourne's Academic Skills Unit has published an online guide and video, giving good summaries of writing a literature review.

Purpose of the literature review

The function and format of your literature review will depend on your academic level (eg undergraduate assignment, Masters dissertation or PhD thesis).

Your review could be:

  • essentially descriptive and topic focused
  • analytical and summative; OR
  • an analytical synthesis covering all known literature on the problem

Keeping track of reading materials - referencing skills

A literature review is dependent on what other authors have said, so it is important that good referencing skills are developed from the beginning.

Referencing management programs can be used to:

  • store bibliographic records (details of books, chapters, journal articles, websites, conference papers, theses, reports, etc) and attachments (such as PDF files, images, links and personal notes)
  • automatically generate citations and bibliographies in a number of standard referencing formats (eg Harvard, APA, Chicago)
  • search and retrieve bibliographic records from library catalogues and journal indexing databases
  • retrieve articles by querying the University SourceIt system for web locations

The University Library has licenses for three referencing products:

There are also free and subscription reference management programs available on the web or for loading onto your computer. These include:

More information: go to the Managing References guide.

The Annotated Bibliography

An Annotated Bibliography

  • is a list of references on a particular subject , each with a short paragraph that summarises, evaluates and critiques the source
  • may be useful preparation for a literature review, but is not essential

There are a few online resources that can assist with the writing of an annotated bibliography:

Selected reference titles

Also refer to the Further reading section of this guide.

Further assistance

Library Research Consultations:

  • are tailored one-to-one appointments with librarians who can assist with your research-specific information needs.
  • are available to staff, postgraduate students, and Honours students undertaking a thesis or original research
  • can be booked online

Other help can be obtained:

  • in Library Skills Classes - Check the list of free classes and sign up for a training session on how to use the library catalogues and bibliographic databases
  • from Subject Specialist Librarians - Contact the librarian of your subject area for assistance in using library resources and with finding information and reading materials