A literature review is a piece of writing that offers a summary of previous scholarly research on a specific topic. The purpose of a literature review is to introduce your reader to the research that other scholars have done on your topic and identify gaps in this literature that your paper will attempt to fill. The literature does not include your own argument or analyses; instead, it synthesizes the major research that has been done on a topic into a relatively short chunk of writing.
Writing a literature review first involves reading widely on your research topic. You want to identify the major scholarly voices that are talking about your topic. As you search scholarly databases, keep an eye out for articles that are cited by many researchers—these may be seminal works in the field.
Video from NC State University Libraries.
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