Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Literature Reviews

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

What is a Literature Review?

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 identifies areas to be explored.

This guide will:

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

What is the Purpose of a Literature Review?

A Literature Review

  • provides a synthesis and examination of a particular research problem
  • identifies gaps in a field of research that may warrant further examination

The function and format of your literature review will depend on your academic level:

  • Undergraduate assignment
  • Masters dissertation
  • 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

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.
  • While there are elements common to both, an Annotated Bibliography's requirements are different from a Literature Review's.

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

The Systematic Review

Systematic Review is a rigorous type of review that follows strict guidelines and methodologies, and often uses a set framework. See the Library's Systematic Review guide for details

Keeping Track of Reading Materials: Reference Management


Manage your references by using a Reference Management Program

You can use a reference management program 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 your word document, in a number of standard referencing formats (eg Harvard, APA, Chicago)
  • search and retrieve bibliographic records from databases and catalogues
  • retrieve articles by querying the University Find It @ UniMelb system for web locations


There are a number of reference management programs available

The most popular are:


               EndNote                                                                        Zotero                                                             Mendeley


For further help and more detailed information, go to the Options for managing references guide.