Does the use of social media have a negative impact on young people’s development in Australia?
1. How to do a Literature Review
What is a literature review?
A literature review reviews the relevant scholarly literature on a specific topic. Its purpose is
to show that you are familiar with the major debates and concepts in the area you are
researching. This does not mean, however, that you need to know everything. In a literature
review, you demonstrate that you can identify the key ideas in the area you are researching
and how they relate to your research question. So you will be focused and selective about
what other studies and discussions are included in your literature review.
A literature review isn’t just a list or a description of what you have read. It also isn’t an
annotated bibliography. It requires an argument, demonstrating that you not only
understand the state of play within the topic you are researching, but that you are
questioning what’s already been said, showing gaps, and identifying areas that need further
research. By doing this you are indicating why you have chosen the particular references
and issues you have identified as being important and why your research project is
A literature review provides the justification for your research by answering questions about
what literature already exists on the topic, how this topic been researched thus far, what is
missing from our knowledge of this issue/topic, and how your research question fits into the
broader field of inquiry. It also covers the key questions, debates, concepts, tensions and
gaps in existing knowledge about your specific topic.
What kind of literature should I use?
Literature can take many forms such as journal articles, books and book chapters, reports,
newspaper articles, and policy documents. However, for this assignment it is important that
the literature is academic, so it would be wise to focus on journal articles, books and book
The most important thing is that the literature review covers the most recent debates on
the topic. A historical perspective is important, but you must demonstrate you understand
the range of debates and where debates on the topic currently stand.
What format does a literature review take?
There are many ways to write a literature review but it is important to remember it is not an
essay. Literature reviews are usually organised thematically, identifying the relevant
material, synthesising it, and then evaluating it. A literature review critically analyses the
previous literature but also acknowledges the contributions others has made to existing
debates on the topic.
A literature review is also different than an essay as you are not answering a predetermined
question, or making an argument for or against a statement given to you. You
must decide what is included in your literature review, and you will need to be selective as