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Research Process: A Step-by-Step Guide: 4f. Literature Reviews

What is a Literature Review?

The term "literature review" can mean different things in different contexts.  All share in common the idea of examining the scholarly literature on a topic.  It is the end result that differs:

  • An Annotated Bibliography is "a bibliography that includes brief explanations or notes for each reference" (from Dictionary.com)  The notes may be evaluative or simply a summary.

  • A literature review can be free-standing article. "A review article or review of the literature article considers the state and progress of current literature on a given topic or problem by organizing, integrating, and evaluating previously published books and articles. In short, a review article is a critical evaluation of material that has already been published." (Writing Literature Reviews)  "The purpose is to offer an overview of significant literature published on a topic." (Write a Literature Review)

  • A literature review is a vital part of research papers including theses and dissertations.  "Surveying the literature is necessary because scholarship is cumulative -- no matter what you write, you are standing on someone else's shoulders. Scholars must say something new while connecting what they say to what has already been said." (Writing Literature Reviews)  

Below are some useful links for writing a literature review.

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