Planning and carrying out a literature review

4. Stages of a literature review

Before you start your literature review, you should already have defined your research topic. Familiarise yourself with your topic's main themes, and be aware of your limits.  


There are four main steps you’ll need to take to complete your literature review:

1.  You will firstly need to find literature which is relevant to your research topic. Before starting your search, make sure that you have defined your subject. Your literature search should be led by the main themes and limits of your research. 

2.  Evaluating your results is the next step. You will need to make a decision as to whether the literature you have found makes a significant contribution to the understanding of your topic. The Prezi (You've finished your literature search... What next?) at the bottom of the page will guide you through the process of deciding what literature needs to be included in your literature review.

 3.  You will then need to analyse and interpret the literature you have decided to include in your review. Identify themes/ideas/theories/approaches that have emerged from reading the literature.

 4.  Once you are satisfied that you have reviewed enough literature relevant to your research topic, you can get down to writing. You will need to introduce and explain each theme (or theory/approach), provide evidence from the literature, comment critically on the literature and relate it to your own research.

Prezi: You've finished your literature search... What next? 

Whilst this process is usually followed by medical students undertaking a systematic review, the framework could easily be used by students from any discipline.   

The Teaching & Learning Support Team are always ready to assist:  Contact the T&LS Team