Literature reviews typically survey the important, relevant, recent research on a specific concern. Whether they appear as an early section in a longer research paper or stand on their own, literature reviews work to evaluate recent concerns, developments, or approaches in recent scholarship to identify a research gap, research question, guiding question, or hypothesis. Literature reviews require more organization and synthesis than annotated bibliographies and typically promise/end with a reason, opportunity, or direction for further work. 

Literature Reviews: An Overview: this useful one-page JMU Writing Center resource defines literature reviews, distinguishes between types of literature reviews, diagrams a typical literature review structure/organization, and includes advice on synthesizing sources.

Sample Literature Review with Annotations: this JMU Writing Center resource shares a student's APA-formatted literature review, pointing out the paper's key organizational choices and synthesis of sources.

Working on an empirical research paper? Check out our Empirical Research Writing resources, featuring two pages on lit reviews: Overview of Introduction/Literature Review section(s) and Annotated Introduction/Literature Review section.

What Kinds of Questions Should I Ask or Answer?: this handy JMU Writing Center resource offers lists of questions to guide your work as you start your lit review research and then as you plan your introduction (purpose), body (research synthesis), and conclusion (research gap) 

Literature Reviews: Construction and Form: this friendly text-based UNC-Chapel Hill page covers the basics as it anticipates your lit review questions.

Strategies for Writing Literature Reviews: want a step-by-step guide in PowerPoint form? This Penn State University resource is especially helpful in discussing different ways of organizing literature reviews (straight chronology or—more usefully—by trend, theme, or research method).

Literature Reviews: An Overview for Graduate Students: like your advice in video form? This < 10-minute NC State Library Guide video introduces literature reviews and their purpose(s) as it offers useful advice on what to expect in your research and writing processes.

Literature Review Flow Chart, and a Short Example

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