Skip to Main Content

Literature Reviews

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

Reading Research Articles

How to Embed This Tutorial in Blackboard:

  1. Select and copy (Ctrl+C) all of the following Embed Code text:
    <iframe title="Reading a Research Article" 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:

Gaps? no one said there would be gaps!

When researching your topic, the literature may not cover your topic in its entirety. There may be some pieces missing that don't discuss part of what you want to review. This is called a gap in the literature. The gap shows missing pieces in your topic that have not been explored or have been under-explored.

When this occurs 

  1. organize your current information into a chart or Venn diagram to map out the information you've already found in scholarly articles or other sources. This shows you what information you already have and what may be missing in the research.
  2. If there is information missing, perform an exhaustive search for any information that may already be available and capable of filling the gap.
  3. Try using other search options, or requesting assistance from a Librarian to aid in your search.
  4. Use the gap as a discussion point in the literature review to help direct future research in your topics field.

Conflicting literature

When completing a literature review on your narrow topic there may be differences in the literature.

For example: A book says stress levels increase when exposed to mindfulness training, but this article says stress levels stay the same with mindfulness training.

When two or more sources conflict with each other it poses a unique issue and potential for the writer.

Tips to handle these issues:

  1. Include ALL relevant information on your topic (do not cherry pick or only show information that supports your ideas)
  2. Discuss why there may be variance in the literature on your topic ( Look at the age of the literature, and if the research had special funding)
  3. Take notes while reading, there may be information that explains the difference(s) that was missed on the first review.

Using inconsistencies

If one or several inconsistencies have been found in the literature review, use it to strengthen your review. 

After reading a literature review the audience should have a good idea of 

  1.  the main arguments in the topic
  2. Major achievements or changes over time in the topic
  3. Questions in the topic today

By incorporating the inconsistencies or contrasting information on a topic the writer can present new questions for the topic field, provide direction for future research, and showcase the strengths and weaknesses of each argument in the literature.

Synthesizing Information

Many students struggle with synthesizing information for a literature review. These tutorials may help.