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Literature Review_: Literature Search

What is a Literature Review?

Literature Search

A literature review is a review of the literature and research concerning a particular topic. It focuses on reviewing several sources, identifies strengths in research, and identifies gaps in knowledge on the topic. You will need to compare and contrast the literature. 

It will focus on recent publications, act as a basis for other research topics, identifies how your research/projects fit into the literature, identify key points, methods, and conclusions of the literature.

Writing a Li

Writing a Literature Review

The Introduction

  • Clearly define the topic and its parameters, be specific and identify what it includes and what it does not.
  • Comment on what is the dominant type of literature on the topic. Are they primarily journal articles, books, news articles, government publications?
  • Explain the purpose of writing the literature review. Why is it relevant to your field of study?
  • Provide any subject-specific terms and definitions that readers may need here.
  • Comment on the history of research on the topic. 

The Body

  • Describe how you selected your literature and the reason you chose the sources you did. 
  • What was your search strategy? How did you proceed to gather your sources? 
  • Describe your sources (the literature) in a structured way. 

- history of the topic, current trends, and findings, current attitudes to the topic. 

  • What is the scope of the literature? Does some literature offer data and statistics, do others describe the topic in written detail?
  • Compare and contrast how the different sources present information on the topic, what are their individual approaches and methods.
  • Identify key themes and arguments in the literature. 
  • Critically comment on the key ideas of the topic, what is your position on these. 
  • Identify gaps that exist in the literature on the topic. How might they be addressed in the future?


This is a summary of the key points you have identified throughout your literature review.

  • What does the literature overall highlight about your topic?
  • Is the literature on the topic relevant, and reliable?
  • Is there a need to investigate the topic further? What is not known or well represented about the topic?
  • How do you recommend researchers proceed going forward with the topic?
  • What are the practical applications of the literature?

Finding the Literature

How to do a Literature Search using the Library Catalogue

To conduct a literature search you will need to search our library catalogue, our databases, and Google scholar. 

  1. Begin by establishing what you want to know. Create a list of keywords and phrases to search. You can gather some keywords by doing some preliminary research on the subject using Google. 

Example Research Question:

When was feminism in film established in the Australian region? 

Keywords: Femisim, film, film industry, Australia, Oceania, 

         2. Search the library catalogue using your keywords. Try using different combinations of the words for different results. 


       3. Record any bibliographic information about a source that you may want to read. Note: The title, author, publication date and location of where the source can be found. 


Articles in Databases

How to do a Literature Search using the Databases

  1. Visit the library homepage. and select the Databases button.  
  2. Read through the different database options available to you. Note: Different databases will hold different information. 
  3. Log in to the database you have selected using your Moodle credentials. 
  4. Using your previous keywords - use the Advanced feature of the database search bar to search for your information. Note: You may wish to narrow your search to 'Full-text articles only' and 'Peer Reviewed Journals'.
  5. Record the bibliographic information of the articles you wish to access.