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Literature Reviews

A literature review article is a discussion of the published information in a particular area.

A literature review is not primary or empirical research article. It is a critical evaluation of material that has been previously published and can be done to assess the state of the literature on a topic and to suggest steps for future research. A literature review is not a summary of other articles--a good review will look at the research that has been done and synthesize those elements that are similar or most pertinent to the theme you have chosen.

Look to see if these questions are answered when you are determining it an article is a literature review:

  • What is already known about this area?
  • What concepts and theories are relevant to this area?
  • What research methods and strategies have been employed in studying this area?
  • Are there significant controversies?
  • Are there inconsistencies in findings relating to this area?
  • Are there unanswered research questions in this area?

A literature review shows the relationships between the various writings and how they relate to your own work. They can be of great value for identifying primary research, and for getting an overview of the research in the field.