chat loading...
Skip to Main Content

Writing the Literature Review

So, you have to write a Literature Review? What is a Literature Review? How is it different from an annotated bibliography? Find out all that and more--Here.

Let's Get Started

Briefly put, what is a "literature review"?  

According to Dawidowicz (2010) a literature review is a systematic examination of knowledge available on a topic

When reading journal articles you will usually notice a section in the beginning of the article that describes previous research findings related to the research topic of the paper.  This is the "literature review" section. In its most basic form, a literature review is a discussion of published knowledge in a particular subject area. It is a process that you, as a researcher, will use in order to collect, gain knowledge of, apply, analyze, and evaluate quality literature and synthesize it in order to provide a foundation and background for your own research.

Why will you need or want to do this?

1. To establish what is already known

2. To demonstrate that your research is new and addresses an area where research is needed

3. To build a solid background and theoretical foundation for your research

Things that a Literature Review should do:

1. Be organized around and related to your thesis

2. Synthesize the results into a summary of what is and what is not known.

3. Identify any areas of controversy in the literature

4. Help to formulate questions for further research

Things that a Literature Review should NOT do:

1. It should not be a list of citations with brief summaries.  That is an annotated bibliography.  

Dawidowicz, P. (2010). Literature Reviews Made Easy : A Quick Guide to Success. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing.

Oliver, P. (2012). Succeeding with your literature review: a handbook for students. Maidenhead, Berkshire: Open Univ. Press, MacGraw-Hill.

Taylor, D. The Literature Review: A Few Tips On Conducting It. Writing Advice. Retrieved December 13, 2018, from

Wang, G. T., & Park, K. (2015). Student research and report writing : from topic selection to the complete paper. Retrieved from


Examples of Literature Reviews

Graduate Studies Librarian

Profile Photo
Dana Casper
JavaScript disabled or chat unavailable.
Is live chat unavailable? Please call 478-471-2709 or e-mail us using this link.
On the Go?
Text-A-Librarian: (478) 285-4898

Macon Campus Library
100 University Pkwy.
Macon, GA 31206
Phone: 478.471.2709
Text: 478.285.4898

Contact a Campus:

478-471-2709 for the Macon campus library | 478-934-3179 for the Roberts Memorial Library at the Cochran campus | 478-275-6772 for the Dublin campus library

478-374-6833 for the Eastman campus library | 478-929-6804 for the Warner Robins campus library | On the Go? Text-A-Librarian: 478-285-4898

Middle Georgia State University Library

Book an Appointment With a Librarian