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HNU Library

Literature Review

A guide to planning, researching and writing a literature review.

What is a literature review?

"A literature review is a description of the literature relevant to a particular field or topic. It gives an overview of what has been said, who the key writers are, what are the prevailing theories and hypotheses, what questions are being asked, and what methods and methodologies are appropriate and useful."

- From What is a Literature Review, Emerald Publishing Group

This video tutorial from North Carolina State University provides an overview of what a literature review is and is not as well as tips for getting started.

Types of Literature Reviews


Basic Literature Review:  A basic or narrative literature review is defined by Machi & McEvoy (2012) as a "written document that develops a case to establish a thesis" that "synthesizes current knowledge pertaining to the research question."  In other words, a basic literature review brings together the "conversation" that has occurred about a specific research area.  It does not present original research of the author.  

Advanced Literature Review:  An advanced literature review combines a basic review with original research.  An advanced review is defined as "a review that uses the work of the basic review to formulate and argue a question for original research" (Machi & McEvoy, 2012).

Systematic Review:  A systematic review is a specialized type of review that is common in the health sciences.  The Cochrane Library states that "a systematic review attempts to identify, appraise and synthesize all the empirical evidence that meets pre-specificied eligibility criteria to answer a given research question."

Literature Review Tools

Literature Review Resources