Scholarship can be seen as an ongoing conversation between researchers in a field. When you conduct research and share your findings, you become a participant in these conversations. In order to participate effectively, it is essential that you know what has been discussed, what ideas have gained traction, and what's currently being talked about.
A literature review examines how a particular topic has been previously approached in a field. It expresses prevailing ideas and understandings, as well as points of debate. Through the literature review, researchers give context to their work and show how their study builds upon previous knowledge and engages with questions of significance.
As you conduct your literature review, look to collectively analyze the sources you find. Look for commonalities as well as noteworthy differences. Additionally, try to identify existing gaps. What hasn't been studied? What questions remain to be answered?