Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

PA 623: Decision Analysis and Decision Support Systems: Literature Reviews

Literature Reviews

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:
    • organizes literature
    • evaluates literature
    • identifies patterns and trends in literature
    • synthesizes 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

Extracted from 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