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What is a literature review?

The term “literature review” has two related meanings.

  • A literature review is a process that gathers information on a topic from numerous sources related to that topic.
  • A literature review is a piece of writing (article, chapter, section of a term paper) that describes, synthesizes, organizes, and/or summarizes information about a topic.

A written literature review can be a stand-alone work.

For instance, some journal articles are literature reviews that summarize or synthesize large bodies of literature on a certain topic.

A written literature review can be part of a larger work.

It can be a section of an article or term paper, or a chapter or section of a thesis, dissertation, or book.

Before you start your literature review project, you will likely find it help to look at examples of similar literature reviews in your discipline.