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The Literature Review in Science

The purpose of this guide is to explain the importance of the literature review in the sciences and some of the components that make up a quality guide.

What is a literature review?

A literature review is not a review in the traditional sense in that you are not critiquing the content written by a peer.  It is not assessing the quality of the writing, a story that has been shared or even the merit of a scientific proposal that has been put forth.  In a literature review, one peruses an assortment of recent journal articles, proposals and synopses that cover the topic that will be the focus of an investigation.

In a literature review, the author should both summarize and synthesize a number of journal articles relevant to the topic they are interested in investigating.  The number of articles to be included in the literature review really depends on the depth that the researcher intends to apply to the topic.  The more involved the experimenter is with the identified topic, the greater the depth of the review of literature.  The person writing the literature review may even want to examine literature reviews assembled by other researchers.