VCU Libraries

Research Guides

Write a Literature Review

Research Librarian

John Glover
(804) 828-6555
Cabell Library, Room 111-B

Want to meet to talk about your research, teaching, or projects? Please get in touch.
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Research Librarian

Nita Bryant
(804) 828-6651
Cabell Library, Room 111-A

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"Lit Review 101"

A literature review asks: What do we know - or not know - about this particular issue/ topic/ subject?

How well you answer this question depends upon:

  1. the effectiveness of your search for information
  2. the quality & reliability of the sources you choose
  3. your ability to synthesize the sources you select

    Begin with a Synthesis Matrix

    As you read, you'll encounter various ideas, disagreements, methods, and perspectives which can be hard to organize in a meaningful way.

    A synthesis matrix helps you record the main points of each source and document how sources relate to each other.

    Examples of Matrix Summaries

    These examples will be helpful to upper-level students in social & behavioral sciences .


    Find Good Models

    Look for other literature reviews in your subject area to see how they are written.

    Need Help Writing the Literature Review?

    VCU's Writing Center consultants can help you plan, develop, and organize your literature review and a follow-up appointment will help you edit, proofread, and revise it.

    VCU University College Writing Center