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Undergraduate Research

This LibGuide will provide an overview of the research process, finding and evaluating information, and appropriate use of citation for undergraduate students completing a research project.

What Is a Literature Review?

A literature review is intended to provide an overview of the previous research that has been done on a topic. This research then serves as the basis for you to develop your own hypothesis. A primary reason for conducting a literature review is to ensure that your hypothesis or thesis has not already been completed.This page will provide more information and techniques to guide you through the process of conducting your own literature review. 


Literature Reviews Handout:

This guide is provided by the Writing Center at UNC-Chapel Hil

Ten Simple Rules for Writing a Literature Review

Marco Puatasso, in Ten Simple Rules for Writing a Literature Review, sets out some practical guidelines for the literature review:

  1. Define a topic and audience
  2. Search and re-search the literature
  3. Take notes while reading
  4. Choose the type of review you wish to write
  5. Keep the review focused, but make it of broad interest
  6. Be critical and consistent
  7. Find a logical structure
  8. Make use of feedback
  9. Include your own relevant research, but be objective
  10. Be up-to-date, but do not forget older studies

Pautasso, M. (2013, July). Ten Simple Rules for Writing a Literature Review. PLoS Computational Biology. pp. 1-4. doi:10.1371/journal.pcbi.1003149.

Literature Review Scoring Rubric

This is an example of a method for evaluating the scholarly literature you find, taken from "Scholars Before Researchers: On the Centrality of the Dissertation Literature Review in Research Preparation" by David N. Boote and Penny Beile Educational Researcher 2005 vol 34 issue 3

What is a Literature Review?

While you should always refer to your instructor's specific assignment guidelines when doing a literature review, you are safe to assume the following are true. A literature review ...

  • Summarizes of the major literature on a specific topic showing relationships between theories, studies
  • Produces unique observations and flows like any other original academic paper
  • Contains central ideas and presents themes with supportive evidence
  • It is NOT just a list of articles with summaries, that is an annotated bibliography

A Video Overview of the Literature Review

Suggested Resources