Dr. Lilia Sevillano: Writing The Literature Review

Massey University

Dr. Lilia Sevillano, from Massey University, in Auckland, the Student Learning Centre, Auckland Campus, is the speaker in this video. She tells us that she has three main topics:

1. Define what a literature review is

2. Organising a literature review

3. Writing a literature review

Why is this important? Why should we even care?

Here’s why: When embarking on research, students are required to know the research that has already been done in their field. The Literature Reviews examine previous related research. This video lecture explains how to write a Literature Review, and examines which elements are required in one.

What are the functions of a literature review? There are four:

1. focuses on previous research

2. shows how your study “fills the gap”

3. shows the necessity for your study

4. sets the boundaries for your study (delimitations of the study)

It is essential you include a critical examination of the material you have read.



Scope and length:

1. For the scope, limit your review to include the current state of the theory.

2. Length: Rule of thumb –

Master: go back 10 years

PhD: go much further back in time (required) (discuss with your supervisor)


– Avoid “verbosity”
– Show your ability to synthesize a body of literature
– Brief, but focused


What should be included in the review?

1. A summary of existing knowledge.

2. A critical evaluation of these works.


Your research seeks to answer the following questions:

1. What research has been done previously?

2. What have others said about your topic?

3. What is the relevance to my study?

4. How is it different from my study?

5. Do the results of existing research agree or disagree?

6. Are there flaws in the existing literature?

7. Always keep in mind: You are showing which Gap in the existing research your research will fill.


Research History: The starting point for your research

1. Survey university databases
2. Abstracts
3. Indices in books
4. Library research consultation

Prioritise materials types

1. Articles in refereed, international journals

2. Books or chapters in edited books

3. Articles in national, refereed journals

4. Conference papers or research reports

5. PhD dissertations and Masters theses

6. Websites & articles in non-refereed journals


A final word of advice:

Constantly check your requirements and speak as often as possible with your supervisor!

Enjoy the video…


About profesorbaker

Thomas Baker is the Past-President of TESOL Chile (2010-2011). He enjoys writing about a wide variety of topics. The source and inspiration for his writing comes from his family.
This entry was posted in Education, Education Technology, EFL and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Dr. Lilia Sevillano: Writing The Literature Review

  1. Ben says:

    An excellent, excellent summary!

    I really like how thorough it is. I also like the idea of making an appointment with a librarian before starting – it is important to know how your are going to search the literature before you start.

    Thanks for the post!


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