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How to Write a Literature Review

A self-guided tutorial that walks you through the process of conducting a Literature Review.

Write a Literature Review

Write literature review

A literature review is a piece of discursive prose. A young Black woman sitting at a desk holding a writing utensilIt should cover the main findings of the various studies that have been undertaken on the topic in question but in a way that brings them together in an unfolding narrative. It can be organized in sections that present themes or identify trends. It may include relevant theory and highlight areas of controversy and questions that have yet to be fully answered.  You are not trying to cover all of the material on the subject but to synthesize and evaluate what has been written on your topic. The goal is to provide the relevant background for your own inquiry and discussion.   

Photo Credit: UO Libraries

Some points to remember

  • Include only the most important points from each source -- you want to digest, not quote from, the sources.
  • The value of the review for you audience will consist in a clear, well-organized synopsis of what has been found so far on your topic. 
  • Avoid plagiarism in your lit review. Consult this UO Libraries tutorial on Academic Integrity if you need some guidance.

If you would like more pointers about how to approach your literature review, this this handout from The Writing Center at UNC-Chapel Hill suggests several effective strategies.

From UNC-Chapel Hill and University of Toronto

Writing Support on Campus

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Photo Credit: UO Libraries

Note: Please check the websites below for availability of online or remote services:


Need more help?

If you have questions related to a field or discipline, consider reaching out to a Subject Librarian by email, phone, or by scheduling an appointment for a free consultation: