Skip to main content

CHEM 2601K: Chemistry Research Methods: Home

Guide created for CHEM 2601K: Chemistry Research Methods to help guide students through the process of a literature review in Chemistry research.

Links to Examples of Literature Reviews:

These are articles pulled during a search of Galileo. These examples have "Literature Review" in the titles, and are an example of a Literature Review that stands alone.


Here are some titles from the Asa H Gordon Library catalog to help guide you as you write your Literature Review.

What is a Literature Review?

What is a review of the literature?

A literature review is an account of what has been published on a topic by accredited scholars and researchers. Occasionally you will be asked to write one as a separate assignment (sometimes in the form of an annotated bibliography—see the bottom of the next page), but more often it is part of the introduction to an essay, research report, or thesis. In writing the literature review, your purpose is to convey to your reader what knowledge and ideas have been established on a topic, and what their strengths and weaknesses are. As a piece of writing, the literature review must be defined by a guiding concept (e.g., your research objective, the problem or issue you are discussing, or your argumentative thesis). It is not just a descriptive list of the material available, or a set of summaries Besides enlarging your knowledge about the topic, writing a literature review lets you gain and demonstrate skills in two areas

1.  information seeking: the ability to scan the literature efficiently, using manual or computerized methods, to identify a set of useful articles and books 

2.  critical appraisal: the ability to apply principles of analysis to identify unbiased and valid studies.

A literature review must do these things

1.  be organized around and related directly to the thesis or research question you are developing

2.  synthesize results into a summary of what is and is not known

3.  identify areas of controversy in the literature

4.  formulate questions that need further research

*Written by Dena Taylor, Health Sciences Writing Centre   (University of Toronto)

What a Literature Review is NOT:

A literature review is a piece of discursive prose, not a list describing or summarizing one piece of literature after another. It's usually a bad sign to see every paragraph beginning with the name of a researcher.

Instead, organize the literature review into sections that present themes or identify trends, including relevant theory. You are not trying to list all the material published, but to synthesize and evaluate it according to the guiding concept of your thesis or research question.  (Taylor, D.)