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Guide to Science Information Resources: The Literature Review

The Literature Review

A literature review is one of the first things done by any student or scholar who plans to pursue new knowledge or do research in most subject areas.  It involves identifying, locating, and examining information and publications on a particular topic. 

Here are the reasons for doing a literature review:

  1. A literature review establishes the background on what has already been researched on a topic.
  2. It shows why a topic is significant to a subject area.
  3. Students and scholars will discover relationships between ideas in the literature.
  4. A literature review helps students and scholars identify major themes and concepts within their topic.
  5. Knowing what has been published allows identification of critical gaps of knowledge and points of disagreement within a subject area.
  6. The literature review helps a scholar or student turn a network of articles into a coherent view of the literature.

A literature review is not:

A literature review allows a student or scholar to integrate and synthesize information on a topic and use it to create new knowledge.

Start a literature review by using the FAU Libraries' indexes and databases (FAUNet log-in required for searching from off campus), and become familiar with the ones used within your field or discipline.  In addition, distinguish the various types of publications that can be found in a literature review.

 

The Literature Review Defined

What is needed to start a literature review?  See the following steps to begin.

Literature Review Matrix

Use a literature review matrix to list and evaluate sources of interest.

The Literature Review - Video

In this video, a professor explains the role of the literature review in his research.

North Carolina State University Libraries (2009).  Literature reviews: An overview for graduate students [Video]. YouTube. https://youtu.be/t2d7y_r65HU

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