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About Literature Reviews

A Literature Review...

A literature review discusses published information in a particular subject area. A literature review combines summary and synthesis of research on a particular topic and is an examination and interpretation of the existing scholarly literature on that topic. It can be thought of as a summary of the answers to your research question.

Some of the following questions may help as you evaluate the literature on your topic:

  • What are the major themes in the existing research on your topic?
  • Are there any debates in the literature, such that scholars taking opposing sides in their research?
  • Are there any gaps in the extant literature, such that there are questions that are not sufficiently answered?
  • What is the state of the research on this topic and how does it all fit together?


Templates for Organizing Your Notes

Because literature reviews convey so much information in a condensed space, it is crucial to organize your review in a way that helps readers make sense of the studies you are reporting on. Two common approaches to literature reviews are chronological—ordering studies from oldest to most recent—and topical—grouping studies by subject or theme.


How are you going to organize the literature?