A literature review is usually a process that gathers information on a topic from numerous information sources related to that topic.
Often that process results in a written product about that topic.
Know your "end product". Literature reviews can introduce (or be sections of) larger projects. Literature reviews can also be stand-alone end products.
Find examples of what you will end up with. See examples at the left and in the Finding Examples box below.
Document your process, results, ideas, the changes you make, and what your reasons are for your process, steps, changes, etc. More about this under "Managing the Review".
The steps below look sequential. However, it is often an iterative process. That is, you may “circle back to redo or modify earlier steps”. You may also be working on a number of “steps” at the same time.
Steps - Developing and completing the Literature Review
State your research topic (or question); or, make a first attempt to get the process going.
You should know or clarify what the review is for. For example, is it for “background”, or a “pro and con discussion”, "integration", “summarizing”, etc. You may have several purposes.
Develop a starting 'search plan for your review'. What strategies are you going to use to find information?
Do your search and choose sources that seem to have information on your topic.
Choose the exact information you want to use, to discuss, or to develop in your review.
Write drafts of 'the paper'. You work with the information you selected to develop the 'review' (e.g., summarize, synthesize, etc.). And you cite the sources used.
Your finished document can be an introduction, paper, chapter, article, etc.
Find and use models for the product you want to end up with.