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Environmental Public Health/Public Health Inspector: Literature review

Writing a literature review

What is a Literature Review?  From the BCIT Library guide:

"A literature review is a comprehensive survey of the scholarly research  (e.g. articles, books, dissertations, conference proceedings) published on a specific topic, providing a description, summary, and critical evaluation of each work.”

Searching for literature and understanding how that interlinks with writing up your findings and influencing new ideas for your research is a vital skill. The graphic above may help you to understand these processes and how they are inter-linked.

Why write a Literature review?

The purpose of the literature review is to offer an account of how a topic has been researched and written about in the past and should identify and provide commentary on the processes and data sources that were used to reach the findings presented in the past research.

It should also feature analysis of how past research projects have influenced the current understanding of the topic.

Finally, a literature review should offer insight into how the topic can be further explored and researched in the future.

The four steps of the literature review process are: 

  1. Identifying and defining a research topic,
  2. Searching for and analyzing past research on your topic, 
  3. Evaluating and determining which literature makes a significant contribution to the understanding of the topic
  4. Writing the review, discussing the findings, and citing the past research that reported upon.

These four steps are discussed in depth on subsequent pages of this guide.