critically evaluate literature review
- Skim through the resource – a quick read through the table of contents, the introductory paragraph or the abstract should indicate whether you need to read further or whether you can immediately discard the result.
- Evaluate the quality and reliability of the references you find – our page on evaluating information outlines what you need to consider when evaluating the books, journal articles, news and websites you find to ensure they are suitable for use in your literature review.
When conducting your searches you may find many references that will not be suitable to use in your literature review.
A key step in writing the literature review is working out what literature should be included. You should only use literature that is highly relevant to your topic. It is better to select a limited number of sources that are central to your topic rather than trying to collect a large number of sources that are not as closely connected.
You may also need to justify why you have included some works and not others. For example, some studies may be superseded by recent evidence or theories and are now out of date. Primary sources are preferred over sources that another person had cited (secondary sources). If you do come across a useful secondary source, try to find the primary source it is referring to, so that you can read it first-hand.
You should begin by skimming the article to identify its structure and features. As you read, look for the author’s main points.
A critical review (sometimes called a critique, critical commentary, critical appraisal, critical analysis) is a detailed commentary on and critical evaluation of a text. You might carry out a critical review as a stand-alone exercise, or as part of your research and preparation for writing a literature review. The following guidelines are designed to help you critically evaluate a research article.