Different projects involve different kinds of literature reviews with different kinds and amounts of work. And, of course, the "end products" vary.
Keep in mind that a literature review defines and sets the stage for your later research. While you may take the same steps in researching your literature review, your literature review is not:
Not an annotated bibliography in which you summarize each article that you have reviewed. A lit review goes beyond basic summarizing to focus on the critical analysis of the reviewed works and their relationship to your research question.
Not a research paper where you select resources to support one side of an issue versus another. A lit review should explain and consider all sides of an argument in order to avoid bias, and areas of agreement and disagreement should be highlighted.
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. That is, 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.
A literature review is important because it:
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