A literature review is an evaluative report of information found in the literature related to your selected area of study. The review should describe, summarise, evaluate and clarify this literature. It should give a theoretical base for the research and help you determine the nature of your research.
During the course of your studies you may be required to carry out a literature review on a specfic topic. A literature review will often form part of your dissertation.
Emerald's "How to guides.." are very useful for help starting research, In particular their guide on literature reviews, see below.
A literature search is a systematic and comprehensive search for information.
The information you search for will inform, underpin and /or shape your research.
A literature search will enable you to find out what has already been written in your subject area and enable you to identify the main trends.
The information can be contained in books, journal articles, reports, case studies, policy documents, conference proceedings etc.