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Writing a Literature Review: Home

A guide to organizing and writing a review of the literature.

Initial Tips

A review of the literature:

• Focuses on a specific topic – your argument or problem as stated in your thesis.
• Compiles the research that has been published on the topic by recognized scholars and researchers.
• Provides background for the problem or puts the problem into historical perspective.
• Informs the reader about the current concepts and state of research on the topic and any controversies.
• Describes the pros and cons of particular studies and may suggest areas for further research.
• Organizes the citations thematically into a narrative that can serve as the introduction to your report or that can be an individual essay.

A review of the literature is NOT:

• A literary review describing and evaluating a specific book, poem, play, etc.
• An exhaustive, alphabetical list of every work consulted in your research, nor a list of references cited.
• An annotated bibliography listing references and adding brief notes about the value of each source.



The Finding Reviews of the Literature page has tips on finding them in the library databases.

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