A literature review is a systematic review of the published literature on a specific topic or research question. The literature review is designed to analyze—not just summarize—scholarly writings that are related directly to your research question. In other words, it represents the literature that provides background information on your topic and shows a correspondence between those writings and your research question.
This guide is designed to be a general resource for those completing a literature review in their field.
The article A typology of reviews: an analysis of 14 review types and associated methodologies by Grant and Booth is often considered the seminal article in defining review types. The chart below is taken from that article.
This video created by the North Carolina State University Libraries provides a detailed overview of literature reviews and the process of conducting a literature review. It also includes examples of literature reviews.
A literature review is important because it: