What is a literature review and how do I write one?


A literature review is an thorough and up-to-date overview of existing research about the topic being studied.  The literature may come from books, articles, documentaries, interviews, critical reviews, DVDs, or other formats. 

It's a review because it usually contains a summary, synthesis, or analysis of the central arguments in the existing literature on the topic.  A literature review does not present an original argument, but instead presents the arguments of others. The sources are the main focus in a literature review and the author summarizes the arguments or ideas of others. You should include only the most relevant sources on a topic.

The literature review may also include gaps in the literature, identifying areas where further research needs to be completed.

Take a look at our research guide designed to assist you in creating a literature review.