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Literature Reviews

Learn what a literature review is, how to find a topic, gather and read resources, and tips for writing. 

Recommended steps for writing a literature review:

  1. Review what a literature review is, and is not 
  2. Review your assignment and seek clarification from your instructor if needed
  3. Narrow your topic
  4. Search and gather literature resources. 
  5. Read and analyze literature resources
  6. Write the literature review
  7. Review appropriate Citation and Documentation Style for your assignment and literature review

Writing a Literature Review

For more information about writing literature reviews, refer to this research guide below:

This video discusses citation management and citation tracing when searching for sources, including:

How to Embed This Tutorial in Blackboard:

  1. Select and copy (Ctrl+C) all of the following Embed Code text:
    <iframe title="Literature Review Tutorial" width="768" height="432" allowTransparency="true" mozallowfullscreen webkitallowfullscreen allowfullscreen style="background-color:transparent;" frameBorder="0" src=""></iframe>  
  2. In Blackboard, create and name an Item (or any other Blackboard tool that includes the standard Text Editor) 
  3. Click the HTML button at the bottom right of the Tool Buttons to open the HTML editor 
  4. Paste (Ctrl+V) the embed code within the HTML window and click Update and Submit. 

Link to VidGrid Video:

Common Questions about Literature Reviews

What is a literature review?

A literature review is a type of scholarly, researched writing that discusses the already published information on a narrow topic

What is the purpose of a writing literature review?

Writing a literature review improves your personal understanding of a topic, and demonstrates your knowledge and ability to make connections between concepts and ideas. The literature review is a service to your reader, summarizing past ideas about a topic, bringing them up to date on the latest research, and making sure they have all any background information they need to understand the topic.  

What is "the literature"?

This already published information- called the literature- can be from primary information sources such as speeches, interviews, and reports, or from secondary information sources such as peer-reviewed journal articles, dissertations, and books. These types of sources are probably familiar to you from previous research projects you’ve done in your classes.

Is a literature review its own paper?

You can write a literature review as a standalone paper, or as part of a larger research paper. When a standalone paper, the literature review acts as a summary, or snapshot, of what has been said and done about a topic in the field so far. When part of a larger paper, a literature review still acts as a snapshot, but the prior information it provides can also support the new information, research, or arguments presented later in the paper.

Does a literature review contain an argument?

No, a literature review does NOT present an argument or new information. The literature review is a foundation that summarizes and synthesizes the existing literature in order for you and your readers to understand what has already been said and done about your topic.