Skip to main content
UCF Libraries Home

Graduate Research

Literature Reviews

What is a literature review?

Literature review is a generic name that describes published material that examines an area of 'the literature.' A literature review can refer to ... a section in an academic paper, a section in an empirical research article, a chapter in a thesis or dissertation, or a standalone article that reviews published research about a specific problem.

Consider why and for whom you are preparing your review. Depending on your audience and the purpose, literature reviews may have different levels of comprehensiveness. Additionally, literature reviews synthesize selected sources, whereas annotated bibliographies summarize sources.

What purpose does it serve? 

  • identifies what is known about a problem and the status
  • explores the scope of issues and any connections
  • establishes a context for investigating a problem
  • explains where authors agree/disagree about key issues
  • synthesizes a group of selected sources  
  • identifies gaps and areas for future research

What types of sources are included? (check instructor requirements)

  • empirical research articles published in peer-reviewed journals
  • possibly grey literature, such as government reports, conference proceedings, technical reports
  • possibly books or book and ebook chapters, or information found on organization and government websites

See the Selected Reading tab for a list of sources about conducting literature searches and writing literature reviews.

Sources for Published Literature Review Articles

Several discipline-specific journals publish literature review articles. To locate journals in your discipline, use the Online Journals option found on the library homepage to search for the journal title. The resources below can also be used to search for literature review articles.