The literature review is an important component of research in the social sciences. The purpose of the literature review is to summarize, discuss, analyze, and evaluate research on a topic. A literature review aims to be objective, discussing research without passing an opinion on it. It is important to note that this type of research is not a list of all research on a given topic, but rather cites major themes and studies within a field and contextualizes them.
Sometimes, a whole article will be a literature review, covering major trends, controversies, and studies in a topic as well as indicating gaps in the research. This is often a good resource to start your research process with, as it will help you identify key studies to contextualize your own research and areas where your research is needed.
Many research projects will include the literature review as a section of a larger paper or project. In this scenario, the literature review is a critical discussion. It will help you contextualize your research as a contribution to a larger discussion. This type of literature review should note how your research relates to research in previous studies.
To search for literature reviews in databases such as ProQuest, include "literature review" as its own search term in one of the keyword boxes. Make sure you use double quotation marks so that the database searches for that specific phrase:
"literature review" AND "parental incarceration"