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How do I Write a Literature Review?: Home

So, you have to write a literature review. Well, this is the best place to start!

Defined: Research Terms

Below is a brief list of different types of research terms. Clicking on the name will take you to an entry in Credo Reference Online defining the term and describing them-

What is a literature review?

A literature review is NOT an academic research paper, an annotated bibliography, or a report on original research.
Unlike an academic research paper, the main focus of a literature review is not to develop a new argument. A literature review is an overview of a topic that shows the reader what research has been done on that subject. A literature review may build on an annotated bibliography, but it does more than just summarize each article; a literature review should compare and contrast the ideas each article contains, highlight interesting trends and inconsistencies within the research, and suggest future research that is needed on the topic.

  • A literature review is a summary and analysis of research published on a specific topic.
  • Literature reviews give a "snapshot" of individual articles and explain how each work has contributed to the field's understanding of the topic.
  • The purpose of a literature review is to trace the history of research on a particular subject, evaluate that research, and identify aspects of the topic that are in need of further study.

A good literature review shows signs of synthesis and understanding of the topic. There should be strong evidence of analytical thinking as illustrated through the connections you make between the literature being reviewed. Think of it this way- a literature review is much more than a book review. It is a document where you present your sources and their overall relationship to your thesis statement.

Conversely, a poor literature review will simply list and identify the sources. In essence, it will appear to be a glorified annotated bibliography.

Steps to developing a literature review:

  1. Choose a topic
  2. Search for relevant articles
  3. Read and evaluate the articles
  4. Synthesize the literature
  5. Summarize and discuss the articles in your writing
  6. Identify gaps in the current research on your topic

Writing the Review

After you've completed all steps, it's time to write about your findings. The actual review generally has 5 components:

  1. Abstract
  2. Introduction
  3. Body
  4. Conclusion
  5. Bibliography

This guide offers tips & "best practices" on how to perform & write a literature review. Click on a tab to learn more about a specific step in the literature review process, and, as always, if you have any questions, feel free to meet with a librarian. We are here to help you with your research!!

New! Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

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