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InfoGuides | Pepperdine Libraries

ARTH 390 Methodological Approaches to Art History: Literature Reviews

Helpful library resources

What is a Literature Review

A literature review provides a critical account of the existing research and explains how this research is significant to the topic you are studying.  The review helps form the intellectual framework for the study.

Purpose:

  • Provides the reader with a summary of the most important scholarly literature in the field.
  • Provides information on the current state of research.
  • Explains contrasting perspectives and viewpoints and current controversies on the topic.
  • Identifies significant researchers in the field.
  • Identifies primary methodologies used in researching in this field.
  • Identifies areas of the field that require further research.
  • Explains how the research you are doing fits into the larger research picture.

 A Literature Review is NOT:

  • A summary of each article OR
  • A descriptive list of what has been written about the topic

The review need not be exhaustive; the objective is not to list as many relevant books, articles, reports as possible. However, the review should contain the most pertinent studies and point to important past and current research and practices in the field.

How is a Literature Review Helpful?

A literature review

  • provides thorough knowledge of previous studies; introduces seminal works.
  • helps focus one’s own research topic.
  • identifies a conceptual framework for one’s own research questions or problems; indicates potential directions for future research.
  • suggests previously unused or underused methodologies, designs, quantitative and qualitative strategies.
  • identifies gaps in previous studies; identifies flawed methodologies and/or theoretical approaches; avoids replication of mistakes.
  • helps the researcher avoid repetition of earlier research.
  • suggests unexplored populations.
  • determines whether past studies agree or disagree; identifies controversy in the literature.
  • tests assumptions; may help counter preconceived ideas and remove unconscious bias.

Want More Information?

For more information about conducting a literature review, search the topic "literature review" in Sage Research Methods and limit the results to "Available to me"