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Literature Reviews

This guide is intended for students who are seeking help on writing a literature review.

What is a Literature Review?

A literature review is a critical analysis and review of published literature on a certain topic or research question. It is specifically designed to examine, analyze, and critique scholarly writings that are related to and around a research question or topic. The purpose of a literature review is to represent the literature that surrounds a particular topic and shows resemblance between the works you have researched and your research question.

There are five basic steps involved in a literature review:

  1. Defining your research question
  2. Planning your approach
  3. Searching the literature
  4. Analyzing your material
  5. Managing your results

This guide will illustrate each of these steps in detail and provide examples to help students in writing their literature reviews.

Difference Between a Literature Review and an Annotated Bibliography

A literature review should not be confused with an annotated bibliography. It is not simply a summary of information you have found on a topic. Literature reviews are more in depth and provides analysis of multiple works relating to a research question.


Courtesy of Washington University Library

“Library Guides: Annotated Bibliographies: Overview.” Overview - Annotated Bibliographies - Library Guides at University of Washington Libraries,

Books and EBooks

Internet Resources