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Literature Reviews

Steps to writing a literature review, with links to learn more.

About This Guide

This guide was created to provide students with step-by-step instructions on conducting and writing a literature review. Navigate this guide using the topics on the left.

Recto: Temple Types sheet from manuscriptAttributed to a member of the Sangallo family. (1530–45). Recto: Temple Types: in Antis and Prostyle (Vitruvius, Book 3, Chapter 2, nos. 2, 3); Verso: Temple Types: Peripteral (Vitruvius, Book 3, Chapter 2, no. 5) [Manuscript]. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY, United States. This image is in the public domain.


A literature review, commonly called a lit review, is an overview of existing literature (books, articles, dissertations, conference proceedings, and other sources) in a particular scholarly area. With a lit review, you will:

  • Gather information about your topic, focusing on the most important current sources
  • Make connections among the existing research and figure out where your research fits in
  • Use the existing literature on your topic to demonstrate a need for your research

Initially, the lit review helps you formulate your research question. Later, the literature that you’ve reviewed will help you analyze and interpret your own findings.