Writing a literature review

Dr Sandra Smith, lecturer in the Department of Marketing at the University of Auckland Business School, New Zealand, conducted a two-day workshop on how to write a literature review at the School of Business recently.

What is the purpose of writing a literature review? According to information gathered, Dr Smith explained that the purpose of writing a literature review is to signal familiarity and competence in relevant literature to reviewers and readers, finding gaps for future research, and positioning your own work as contributing to and extending prior work.

Over the course of the 2-day workshop, she introduced the many different types of literature review: argumentative, integrative, historical, methodological, systematic, and theoretical. There are also a variety of approaches which can be adopted to organise and write literature reviews. Generally, a good review should answer two important questions - what do we know and what do we not know about a particular theory.

Dr Smith also shared about the importance of creating a literature review database, as well as the how to on using computational tools to analyse literature review data. Participants were also taught how to move from descriptive writing to evaluation, signalling arguments and the system of tense and aspect in literature review.

The workshop facilitated the construction of a well-structured and meaningful review of literature, focusing on structure, linking ideas, and critical analysis. It also provided ample opportunities for participants to practice what they had learned through a series of writing exercises, and for personal consultation.