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Literature Reviews

Definition

A literature review is a piece of writing intended to critically evaluate material that has been published on a certain topic or research problem.

Purpose

According to the APA Publication Manual, Sixth Edition, literature reviews can

  • Define and clarify a problem
  • Summarize previous investigations to inform the reader of the state of research
  • Identify relations, contradictions, gaps, and inconsistencies in the literature
  • Suggest the next step or steps in solving the problem

Format

A literature review can be published as a free-standing piece of writing or as a section of a larger work. For example, literature reviews are often published as a book chapter or within the introduction of a scholarly research article.  Literature reviews should follow the general guidelines of an appropriate style and formatting guide, such as APA, MLA, or Chicago.

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