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Child & Youth Studies

Literature Reviews: An Overview



Some sources to consult:




Why Write a Literature Review?

  1. Ensures that you are not "reinventing the wheel".
  2. Gives credits to those who have laid the groundwork for your research.
  3. Demonstrates your knowledge of the research problem.
  4. Demonstrates your understanding of the theoretical and research issues related to your research question.
  5. Shows your ability to critically evaluate relevant literature information.
  6. Indicates your ability to integrate and synthesize the existing literature.
  7. Provides new theoretical insights or develops a new model as the conceptual framework for your research.
  8. Convinces your reader that your proposed research will make a significant and substantial contribution to the literature (i.e., resolving an important theoretical issue or filling a major gap in the literature).


Most Students' Literature Reviews Suffer From:

  • Lack of organization and structure

  • Lack of focus, unity and coherence

  • Being repetitive and verbose

  • Failing to cite influential papers

  • Failing to keep up with recent developments

  • Failing to critically evaluate cited papers

  • Citing irrelevant or trivial references

  • Depending too much on secondary sources

 Taken from: "How to Write a Research Proposal" by Paul T. P. Wong, Ph.D., C.Psych


A Literature Review is NOT:


Where to Find Literature Review Articles

About Systematic Reviews 

“A systematic review attempts to identify, appraise and synthesize all the empirical evidence that meets pre-specified eligibility criteria to answer a given research question. Researchers conducting systematic reviews use explicit methods aimed at minimizing bias, in order to produce more reliable findings that can be used to inform decision making.” - Cochrane Library, About Cochrane Systematic Reviews and Protocols