A Literature Review Is Not:
So, what is it then?
A literature review is an integrated analysis-- not just a summary-- of scholarly writings that are related directly to your research question. That is, it represents the literature that provides background information on your topic and shows a correspondence between those writings and your research question.
A literature review may be a stand alone work or the introduction to a larger research paper, depending on the assignment. Rely heavily on the guidelines your instructor has given you.
Why is it important?
A literature review is important because it:
1. Choose your topic, define your question
2. Decide on the scope of your review
3. Select the databases you will use to conduct your searches
4. Conduct your searches and find the literature. Keep track of your searches!
5. Review the literature! This is the most time-consuming part.
Remember, a literature review provides an overview of a topic. There may or may not be a method for how studies are collected or interpreted. Lit reviews aren't always obviously labeled "literature review"; they may be embedded within sections such as the introduction or background. You can figure this out by reading the article.