What is the Literature Review?

Purpose of the Literature Review

The literature review helps place your research in the context of what has already been done in the field. The literature review is a component of most scholarly writing. Dissertations include a chapter-long literature review, and research articles will include a literature review near the beginning of the article. Sometimes an entire article will be devoted to reviewing the literature.

Resources for your Literature Review

The literature review focuses on primary, peer-reviewed resources. Often starting with the seminal literature of the field, it mostly consists of research articles on the topic. Secondary sources are used sparingly, if at all.

In order to write a comprehensive literature review, you must search in multiple databases. No single source will have all of the primary resources you should consult. A comprehensive literature review should include searches in the following:

  • Multiple journal databases
  • Book databases
  • Dissertations
  • Sources outside the library

Credits for this tutorial: About this Tutorial [PDF].

Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary Resources. Find out how these resources can help to develop your Literature Review. Your Literature Review Plan. Start your own Literature Review search plan! This document, based on the tutorial Finding Resrouces for Your Dissertation Literature review, walks you through the steps of planning out your literature review search strategy. The Capella Finding Resources for Your LIterature Review: Leaving No Stone Unturned was recently recognized by the American Library Association/Association of College and Research Libraries Instruction Section Peer-Reviewed Instructional Materials Online (PRIMO) as an example of exemplary online instruction materials. Visit the PRIMO homepage.