A literature review is a summary and evaluation of significant research on a particular subject. Lit reviews are often at the beginning of a larger research article, to introduce a topic and provide its history and development, but they could also stand on their own as separate publications.
Lit reviews are not simply summaries of the different articles written on a topic. They should take a critical eye to published research to provide insight on the topic.
"Literature" covers everything relevant that is written on a topic: books, journal articles, newspaper articles, historical records, government reports, theses and dissertations, etc. However, your professor may have specific guidelines as to what type of materials you may include.
A literature review follows a different style, format and structure from a research article.
|Lit Review Article||Research Article|
|Describes what?||Reports on the work of others.||Reports on the authors' original research.|
|Purpose||To examine and evaluate previous literature.||
To test a hypothesis and/or make an argument.
May include a short literature review to introduce the subject.