Q. What is a literature review?
Literature reviews, or review articles, are an attempt by one or more writers to sum up the current state of the research on a particular topic. Ideally, the writer searches for everything relevant to the topic, and then sorts it all out into a coherent view of the “state of the art” as it now stands. Literature reviews will teach you about::
- the main people working in a field
- recent major advances and discoveries
- significant gaps in the research
- current debates
- ideas of where research might go next
Review articles are virtual gold mines if you want to find out what the key articles are for a given topic. If you read and thoroughly digest a good literature review, you should be able to “talk the talk” about a given topic. Unlike research articles, review articles are good places to get a basic idea about a topic.
In most databases and indexes, you can limit your search to include only review articles. Some databases might use the term "literature review," but it's the same thing.