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Literature Reviews: Welcome!

What is a lit review? How do I write one? Where do I start? Look here!

Reference & Instruction Librarian

What is a Literature Review?

If you're looking at this LibGuide it's probably because your instructor is telling you that you need to include a literature review in your paper and you have no idea what that is. Have no fear! The library is here and happy to help.

So, what is a lit review? A lit review is a section of a paper that establishes the previous research done on whatever topic you're writing about. The point of a lit review is to show that you've done research in this field and to also establish a gap that your paper is aiming to fill. In talking about the previous research that's been done, you're also evaluating the sources' strengths and weaknesses.

The important part of a lit review is synthesis. You're not just making of list of "this person wrote this and then this person wrote this." The goal is to read a portion of the research done on your topic and evaluate it. A literature review is not a just a summary. You are actively comparing, contrasting, and (again) evaluating each of the works you are writing about. You then write about the these themes/ideas, who else has written about them, and why they are relevant to your paper. Look to the next page for help with finding themes!