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How to do a Literature Review - STEM : Home

What is a Literature Review?

A Literature Review is the part of a scholarly article that discusses scholarship important to the issue that is being studied, as well as key sources that informed the research that went into the article. It is normally located after the introduction but before the methodology section of a scholarly article. A Literature Review is important because:

  1. It helps familiarize the researcher and reader with topics and scholarship in a field of study.
  2. It gives the researcher and reader an idea of which other researchers are working on a topic.
  3. It can be useful in finding gaps in existing research.
  4. It helps to develop a framework and methodology for later research.

Literature Reviews include a brief summary of a source as well as a discussion about the source in relation to other research on a topic. Literature Reviews can be standalone documents, but are often incorporated into a scholarly article and vary in size from a paragraph to a couple of pages in length.

Examples of Literature Reviews

The following are good locations to see examples of Literature Reviews:

Writing a Literature Review

If you need guidance on how to write a Literature Review, Purdue University's OWL website has a good guide.

University of Arizona's Global Campus does a great, brief introduction to literature reviews

Reading a Scholarly Article

Scholarly articles are usually divided into specific sections:

  • Introduction
  • Literature Review
  • Methodology
  • Discussion
  • Conclusion
  • References

Searching for Scholarly Articles

When building a Literature Review, you will want to conduct a comprehensive search in your subject area. There are a few ways you can do this:

1. Look for subject headings for an article. These are controlled vocabulary the article databases use to organize information.

2. Use the advanced search function and the drop down menu to search by subject.

3. Look at the reference list at the end of the article for similar studies. These are good places to see what else has been written about a topic.

You may wish to consult the following databases when searching for scholarly articles:

Need Help?

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Jeremy Green
Carroll Community College Library
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Westminster, MD 21157
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