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Conducting your literature review

Introduction

The literature review is an essential step in the research process. A successful literature review will offer a coherent presentation and analysis of the existing research in your field, demonstrating: 

  1. Your understanding of the subject area 
  2. Gaps in current knowledge (that may in turn influence the direction of your research)  
  3. Relevant methodologies 

There are different approaches and methods to literature reviews, and you may have heard of terms like systematic, structured, scoping or meta-analysis. This is when the literature review becomes the research methodology in its own right, instead of forming part of the research process. 

This guide will explain the differences between a traditional literature review and a structured or systematic literature review. 

The EPPI Centre also offers support and expertise to those undertaking systematic reviews. 

For guidance on writing your thesis or dissertation refer to our guide on Writing your thesis.