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Literature Reviews

In This Guide

What is a Literature Review?

A literature review (or review of the literature) critically evaluates and synthesizes the significant works (books, scholarly articles, dissertations, etc.) published on a particular issue, area of research, or theory.

Literature reviews often:

  • Provide background and a chronological/historical perspective.
  • Identify deficiencies and areas that need additional research.
  • Clarify whether there is consensus in existing research.
  • Indicate how a particular work adds to currently published research.

For more information about how to write a literature review, see Graduate Writing Workshops: Literature Reviews (OWL at Purdue).

Types of Literature Reviews

There are two main types of literature reviews ranging from selective to comprehensive.

  • A stand-alone review, such as a journal article that consists only of a review of the literature.

            Example 1  |  Example 2

  • A review that is part of a larger work, such as a section within a journal article or book.

            Example 1  |  Example 2

For more information, see the video below.

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Guide Owner

This guide is maintained by Jennifer McKay.