Skip to Main Content

Literature Reviews

Guidance on conducting a narrative literature review for dissertations and theses

The Research Question

Having a clear, concise, and focused research question is essential because it sets the boundaries and direction of your work. As you explore the literature, ask yourself,

  • What is known about the topic? What are the issues or debates surrounding the topic? Did you notice any gaps or unanswered questions?
  • Do you need to broaden or narrow your topic? Are you interested in studying a specific population, time period, geography, environment, etc.?
  • What kinds of information do you need? What research methodology will you use?
  • Why are you interested in the topic? Why would others be interested in the topic?

Concepts Maps

Brainstorming tools like concept maps can help you formulate a research question.You can use pen and paper or a free online mind mapping tool, such as

The 3-minute video below demonstrates how to create a concept map.

Credit: How to Create a Concept Map, Penn State Libraries (CC-BY)

Learn More

The following 2-minute video lists 5 questions to ask before choosing a research topic.

Credit: How do i identify a good research topic? SAGE Research Methods, 2018