A literature review is just what it sounds like...
A review of the literature that already exists on your topic of choice.
Conducting a literature review is an important part of any research project because it shows readers other, related research that has been done on the topic. It can also be an important step in narrowing your topic and writing and informed paper.
In order to conduct a thorough literature review, you should generally look at a variety of resources, rather than focusing on just one or two. These can often include books and encyclopedias, scholarly articles and sometimes Internet resources (ALWAYS check with your professor before using these, though).
This guide will walk you through the process of finding these types of information through the Library website, and provide you with some specific resources to consult.
Feel free to contact me with any questions you have, or to set up a time to meet one-on-one for help with your research.
When starting your literature review, it's important that you have at least a topic to begin with. The more focused you are, though, the easier your research will be.
For instance, if you're looking for research about drug use, you'll probably find more information than you can use. On the other hand, if you're interested in finding research about drug use by high school students, you're likely to find a more manageable number of results.
Don't worry, if you're just starting to think about your topic, though. Having a general idea of what you'd like to study is a good starting point, and can be a great way of finding your focus, by exploring the resources that you find.