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Conducting a Literature Review for the Social Sciences

How to Read a Journal Article

CHECKLISTS and QUESTIONS to help critically evaluate the Literature Review

Questions to address when writing a Literature Review portion of your paper:

  • The literature review is related to the research problem  Yes / No

  • It is clearly stated whether the literature review reflects what the researchers knew and believed before data collection, during data collection, during data analysis or after data analysis  Yes / No. If yes, state which

  • The review shows a critical attitude, rather than simply and/or indiscriminately summarising studies  Yes / No

  • The review shows a discernible logic that points towards the research purpose  Yes / No

Source: See page 13.  Noyes J & Lewin S. Chapter 5: Extracting qualitative evidence. In: Noyes J, Booth A, Hannes K, Harden A, Harris J, Lewin S, Lockwood C (editors), Supplementary Guidance for Inclusion of Qualitative Research in Cochrane Systematic Reviews of Interventions. Version 1 (updated August 2011). Cochrane Collaboration Qualitative Methods Group, 2011. Available from URL

Selected readings (with checklists) addressing literature review and other aspects of qualitative research (see links below):

TEMPLATES to help evaluate studies (in your literature review)

Consider using the templates below to compare research articles and determining thematic trends and outcomes: