A literature review should try to answer questions such as:
1. Who are the key researchers on this topic?
2. What has been the focus of the research efforts so far and what is the current status?
3. How have certain studies built on prior studies? Where are the connections? Are there new interpretations of the research?
4. Have there been any controversies or debate about the research? Is there consensus? Are there any contradictions?
5. Which areas have been identified as needing further research? Have any pathways been suggested?
6. How will your topic uniquely contribute to this body of knowledge?
7. Which methodologies have researchers used and which appear to be the most productive?
8. What sources of information or data were identified that might be useful to you?
9. How does your particular topic fit into the larger context of what has already been done?
10. How has the research that has already been done help frame your current investigation?
Example of a literature review at the beginning of an article:
Prevalence and Correlates of Strength Exercise Among Breast, Prostate, and Colorectal Cancer Survivors.
Example of a comprehensive review of the literature:
An exploration of bullying behaviours in nursing: a review of the literature.