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DNTL 2244 - C. Adriano: Part 3: Literature Review

A library guide for resources relevant to Community Oral Health II.

What is a literature review?

A literature review surveys published information (books, scholarly articles, and other documents) relevant to a particular issue, area of research, or theory.  The "literature" of a literature review refers to any collection of materials on a topic.

Sometimes a literature review is a brief summary of those sources, but more commonly it is a summary and a synthesis. A synthesis can be a reorganization of the information to provide a new interpretation, make comparisons between old and new information, or track the intellectual progression of an idea or concept. A literature review can also provide an evaluation of the sources in order to advise readers on their relevance or importance.

Here are a few types of Literature Reviews often used in undergraduate research:

  • Narrative Review: Describes what related research has already been conducted and how that research informs the thesis of the paper
  • Critical Review: Provides a more detailed examination of the literature that compares and evaluates a number of perspectives.
  • Conceptual Review: Groups literature according to concepts, or categories, or themes in order to provide a snapshot of where things are with a particular field of research.

What is the purpose of a literature review?

Generally speaking, a literature provides an overview of the significant literature published on a topic. For researchers of all levels and disciplines, a literature review can:

  • Set up the starting point for research by summarizing, comparing, and evaluating existing sources in the area of interest.
  • Help understand the direction of the further research and areas worth focusing on.
  • Provide access to the most important information on a certain topic by picking out sources that are valid, meaningful, and relevant, summarizing them and turning them into a single concise report.
  • Help researchers to not duplicate work that has been done before.
  • Provide a detailed analysis of methods used in other research projects.
  • Identify gaps and contradictions in existing sources and highlight the most important findings.
  • Identify current research in the field.
  • Comprehensive knowledge of the literature of the field is essential to most research papers.

Writing your literature review

Combine the information you have collected on your topic and write your literature review based on the description above. Use 4 sources for the review, including 2 articles from a scholarly journal. Review each article and compare it to the other articles. The review should include facts, statistics, study results, and expert opinions as well as your own insights on the topic. Identify the major impact of the findings, how it will affect people, what the benefits and disadvantages are, and conclude the review with final statements on what you learned from the research.

Examples of literature reviews