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Write Abstracts, Literature Reviews, and Annotated Bibliographies: Literature Reviews

A guide to writing abstracts, annotated bibliographies, and literature reviews

What is a Literature Review?

According to the Writing Center at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, "A literature review discusses published information in a particular subject area, and sometimes information in a particular subject area within a certain time period."

Although a literature review may summarize research on a given topic, it generally synthesizes and summarizes a subject. The purpose of a literature review therefore is to present summaries and analysis of current research not contribute new ideas on the topic (making it different from a research paper).

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How to Write a Literature Review

Dos and Don'ts of a Literature Review


Make a clear statement of the research problem.

Keep it in discussion style.

Give a critical assessment of your chosen literature topic, try to state the weaknesses and gaps in previous studies, try to raise questions and give suggestions for improvement.

List your ideas or theories in an unrepeated and sensible sequence.

Write a complete bibliography that provides the resources from where you had collected the data in this literature review.


Use unfamiliar technical terms or too many abbreviations.

Use passive voice in your text.

Repeat same ideas in your text.

Include any ideas that you read in the article without citing them (author's name, publication date) as a reference source.

Include punctuation and grammatical errors.