Conducting a Literature Review


Examples | Search & Evaluate | Student Resources | Read Critically | Cite Sources | Write the Review | Glossary | Teacher Resources


A literature review is a way for you to learn what others think and have research related to your topic.You will complete the following steps:

  • Find research articles.
  • Read and take notes.
  • Cite your sources.
  • Write a literature review.

What is a Literature Review?

  • An examination on what has already been written about your topic.
  • A collection of published research about your topic by recognized scholars and researchers.
  • A way for you to examine what has already been done in regard to your research question or problem.
  • A summary and synthesis of research driven by a guiding concept. It is not just a list of research sources.
  • Provides a background for your problem and a rationale for your research.
  • A Literature Review is NOT a research paper.

Why do we do a Literature Review?

  • To get guidance on a topic.
  • To establish a solid background on the topic
  • To see what areas of research exist.
  • To investigate researchable hypotheses.
  • To collect authoritative data on the topic.
  • To find new avenues for research direction.

You may find it helpful to examine some sample literature reviews. They can help to guide your work and to give you a clearer sense of what your final product should contain.



Searching for sources for your literature review will take time, effort and strategy. How you search is as important as where you search. Check out this video for information about searching for information using the Internet.

Use the following strategies which will enable you to perform the most efficient and effective searches:

Check out this video on how to evaluate sources.

student resources


A key part of conducting a literature review is finding sources to help guide your knowledge, thinking, research process, and any original direction you might want to take.

A key to good sources is to use the places and strategies that will provide you with the most authoritative content. 

What are the different kinds of sources?

Database Content

Websites and Other Digital Resources

  • Subject Specific Resources
    Check out this list of information rich websites and digital resources organized by subject area.
  • Google Scholar
    Google Scholar provides a simple way to broadly search for scholarly literature. From one place, you can search across many disciplines and sources: articles, theses, books, abstracts and court opinions, from academic publishers, professional societies, online repositories, universities and other web sites. Google Scholar helps you find relevant work across the world of scholarly research.

 Chat with a Librarian!

Research studies require critical reading skills. You will want to use the attached work sheet for tips on how to read each study. You should also take notes to record your findings as you work through each study.


Citing sources in an essential part of the research process. It is essential to be sure that you attribute the ideas of others to the source.

Online Citation Generators


Write the Review
Composing the written part of your review will take time, effort and attention. Use the following resources to help you as you approach the writing process.

Literature Review Writing Guide


Sample literature review with annotations

Literature Review Vocabulary

Comprehensive overview of a literature review


teacher resources

Unit Overview and Lessons are available in BCPSOne.