What is a literature review? What purpose does it serve in research? What should you expect when writing one?
Simply defined, a literature review is critical analysis of the literature already published on a topic. Science graduate students often develop their research question as a result of the work being done in the lab with which they are associated. They must then be able to step back and describe how their specific question fits in the context of the field or discipline. This requires that the student spend time finding, reading, interpreting, and synthesizing the available information so that it is connected to their thesis.
This (very simplified and not factually accurate) example will help you understand how to bring together research into a cohesive narrative:
Many scholars have written about domestic cats. Cats were domesticated approximately 3000 years ago by Egyptian farmers (McMonigle, 1992). Unlike dogs, cats domesticated themselves - they hunted the rats and mice that lived in grain storage areas (Wetzel, 2008; Kern, 2010). Yet while scholars have investigated when and how cat domestication occurred, they have not investigated the why of domestication. This project explores why cats chose human companionship...
Want more information? Watch this quick video to get an overview!