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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.