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Literature Reviews

This guide provides information to help you prepare to write a literature review.

What is a Literature Review?


A literature review is an analysis of literature on a topic. It is used to gather background information on a certain topic, to determine major themes and trends, and show how your research fits into the field and current literature. 


A literature review is NOT:

  • Just a summary of all literature on a topic
  • An annotated bibliography
  • Criticism or review of a piece of literature


Why Should I Write One?

  • To gather background information on a specific topic
  • To find out what research has already been done in the field regarding the topic
  • To find major themes and concepts
  • To discover major researchers and authors in a field
  • To establish any gaps in the current literature
  • To determine future directions based on current research

Getting Started

1. Define your research question.

Decide what you will be researching and writing about within your field. Think about topics that interest you and do some research on them to see what is trending. This can give you some idea of different research questions and what specifically you would like to explore.

If you need help developing a research question, check out our Writing a Research Question Guide.


2. Determine the scope of your review.

Always check assignment guidelines for your instructor's expectations of the scope of your review

  • What do you plan to cover in your review?
  • How many citations will you include? How long will your literature review be?
  • What will you focus on when analyzing the literature?
  • What type of literature will you be examining? 
  • Will you include all relevant literature or do you need to limit the literature to a certain publication date range for currency?