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Kinesiology : Conducting a Literature Review

What is a Literature Review?

A literature review is an essay that surveys, summarizes, links together, and assesses research in a given field. It surveys the literature by reviewing a large body of work on a subject; it summarizes by noting the main conclusions and findings of the research; it links together works in the literature by showing how the information fits into the overall academic discussion and how the information relates to one another; it assesses the literature by noting areas of weakness, expansion, and contention. This is the essentials of literature review construction by discussing the major sectional elements, their purpose, how they are constructed, and how they all fit together.

All literature reviews have major sections:

  • Introduction: that indicates the general state of the literature on a given topic;
  • Methodology: an overview of how, where, and what subject terms used to conducted your search so it may be reproducable
  • Findings: a summary of the major findings in that field;
  • Discussion: a general progression from wider studies to smaller, more specifically-focused studies;
  • Conclusion: for each major section that again notes the overall state of the research, albeit with a focus on the major synthesized conclusions, problems in the research, and even possible avenues of further research.

In Literature Reviews, it is Not Appropriate to:

  • State your own opinions on the subject (unless you have evidence to support such claims).  
  • State what you think nurses should do (unless you have evidence to support such claims).
  • Provide long descriptive accounts of your subject with no reference to research studies.
  • Provide numerous definitions, signs/symptoms, treatment and complications of a particular illness without focusing on research studies to provide evidence and the primary purpose of the literature review.
  • Discuss research studies in isolation from each other.

Remember, a literature review is not a book report. A literature review is focus, succinct, organized, and is free of personal beliefs or unsubstantiated tidbits.

Outline of a Literture Review