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Research Guides | Library | Amherst College
Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship & Benjamin Mays Library Research Guide
A literature review is a piece of writing that summarizes the current state of existing research on a specific topic. Literature reviews are often located within or immediately after the introduction section in a published article. Some journal articles are entire standalone literature reviews (review articles).
Literature reviews help to bring readers up to speed on a specific topic. They also can help you as the writer by:
Providing context for your own research
Demonstrating your knowledge and understanding of the field of study
Providing ideas for your own research
Identifying methods which may be useful for your own research
Source: Brettle, A., & Koufogiannakis, D.(2018).Creating a meaningful literature review. In R. V.Small & M. A.Mardis (Eds.), Research methods for librarians and educators (pp. 21–36). Santa Barbara: CA: Libraries Unlimited.
What are the steps in creating a literature review?
In order to develop a literature review, you must locate sources that substantively discuss your topic. In the review you should:
Identify seminal research (noteworthy scholarship).
Develop themes or categories to organize the sources you find.
Identify points where research findings have settled an issue and where disagreements still exist.
Identify where "gaps" exist (ideas that are unexplored or under-explored). The gaps you identify should help to provide a justification for your own original research.
Example of a literature review section in a research article
This literature review article, written for the Yale Review of Undergraduate Research in Psychology, provides an overview of the research done on the psychological effects of FGM and current treatments.