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What is a Literature Review?

A literature review is an academic, reflective account of key sources taken from accredited researchers and scholars that surveys and focuses on relevant works of a specific topic.

The literature review must:

  • Demonstrate the selected sources’ strengths and weaknesses.
  • Define guiding concepts (e.g., your research objective, your argumentative thesis, or the problems or issues you are discussing).

Literature reviews are not summaries nor descriptive list of materials, and they do not present any previously unpublished research. Although literature reviews may be published as review articles in academic journals or as an element in a thesis or dissertation, they are pieces of writing typically done after research and before one’s own writing assignment begins. Literature reviews are an important piece in academic writing, and are done to reflect the current state of knowledge in a selected field, and whose job is to convey to readers what knowledge and ideas have been established on the topic.


The University of Toronto – Health Sciences Writing Center. (n.d.). The Literature Review: A Few Tips on Conducting. Retrieved from: