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Write a Literature Review


As a student at VCU, VCU Libraries are here to help you succeed!  This guide offers an introduction to conducting a literature review and provides links to the resources and tools we offer.  To navigate, simply click the blue tabs to the left based on type of information you're needing.  

If ever you are in need of research assistance, don't hesitate to consult a specialist based on your subject area.   

Please provide feedback on this guide at any point by emailing Kelsey Cheshire,

What is a Literature Review?

A literature review is an essential component of every research project. Literature reviews ask: 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

Literature reviews require “re-viewing” what credible scholars in the field have said, done, and found in order to help you:

  • Identify what is currently known in your area of interest
  • Establish an empirical/ theoretical/ foundation for your research
  • Identify potential gaps in knowledge that you might fill
  • Develop viable research questions and hypotheses
  • Decide upon the scope of your research
  • Demonstrate the importance of your research to the field

A literature review is not a descriptive summary of what you found. All works included in the review must be read, evaluated, and analyzed, and synthesized, meaning that relationships between the works must also be discussed.