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Review Types: Literature Reviews

This guide provides information and resources on the types of research as well as supporting works including literature reviews.

Research Paper vs. Literature Review

Research Paper:

  • Develops a new argument.
  • Uses a literature review as a foundation and support for new insight.

Literature Review:

  • Summarizes and synthesizes the arguments and ideas of others without adding new contributions.

Books on Literature Reviews

What Is a Literature Review?

What is a Literature Review?

A literature review (commonly called lit review) is an in-depth critical analysis of published scholarly
research related to a specific topic. The “literature” may refer to journal articles, books, book chapters,
dissertations and theses, or conference proceedings.


What are the criteria of a Literature Review?

● Is organized and related directly to the thesis or research question developed
● Synthesizes results into a summary of what is known (and what is not known on the topic)
● Identifies areas of controversy in the literature
● Formulates questions that need further research


What does a Literature Review do?

  • Explains the background of research on a topic.
  • Helps focus your own research questions or problems.
  • Suggests unexplored ideas or populations.
  • Identifies critical gaps, points of disagreement, or potentially flawed methodology or theoretical approaches.

Literature Reviews are Important because they...

  • Provide a guide to a particular topic.
  • Are useful reports that keep professionals up to date with what is current in the field.
  • Can emphasize the credibility of the writer in his or her field.
  • Provide a solid background for a research paper’s investigation.

Literature Review Introduction Video


For the video below - note around 14-minute mark information on subheadings, around 16-minute mark information on bibliography and works cited.