Answered By: APUS Librarians
Last Updated: Nov 25, 2018     Views: 51747

A literature review is a written summary of the existing published research on a topic.   A literature review can be brief (a section in a larger article) or it can be an entire article unto itself.   The purpose of a literature review is to provide an overview of the current knowledge on a topic, and/or to provide a context for new research.
Click here to see a table that lists the various kinds of literature reviews that you may encounter in your research.  (From Grant, M. J. and Booth, A. (2009), A typology of reviews: an analysis of 14 review types and associated methodologies. Health Information & Libraries Journal, 26: 91–108. doi:10.1111/j.1471-1842.2009.00848.x)

To find literature reviews:

  • To find comprehensive, article-length literature reviews in the library's databases:
    • Use keywords to narrow your search to literature reviews.  For example:
    • motor learning AND literature review
    • motor learning AND systematic review


  • A few databases will let you limit your search to literature reviews only. You'll typically find this "document type" or "publication type" option in the database's advanced search options.

Here are examples from two popular databases (EBSCO and ProQuest):

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Literature review filter in EBSCO advanced search options         Literature review filter in ProQuest advanced search options

See also: 

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