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A literature review surveys scholarly articles, books, and other sources relevant to a particular issue or area of research and provides a description, summary, and critical evaluation of each work.
What is a Literature Review?
The literature review ...
an overview of research on a given topic and answers to related research questions
features of such an overview:
identifies patterns and trends in literature
an overview of what we
know and of what we do not know about a given topic not necessarily exhaustive, but up-to-date and includes all major work on the topic
intellectual context for your original research
motivation for your original research
structure of review guided by your objectives
continually refers back to your thesis or research questions
a "laundry list" of everything written on a topic, where each source gets its summary paragraph
lacks organization guided by thesis or research questions
lacks synthesis of literature
lacks critical evaluation of literature
an annotated bibliography
a literary or book review
What is a Literature Review? (and How Do I Write One?!), PowerPoint Presentation by Nicholas Shunda, University of Connecticut, 2007.
Guides to Writing a Literature Review
A literature review is a summary of previous research on a topic. The purpose of a literature review is to provide an overview of published research on a topic.
Literature Reviews: An Overview for Graduate Students
A Literature Review: A Basic Guide