Overview/Process E-Lecture (5:15)



A literature review is an assessment of a body of research that addresses a research question.


 A literature review:

  • Identifies what is already known about an area of study

It may also:

  • Identify questions a body of research does not answer     
  • Make a case for why further study of research questions is important to a field


It is a research journey with several steps:

  • Framing a research question
  • Searching relevant bodies of literature
  • Managing search results
  • Synthesizing the research literature
  • Writing an assessment of the literature

The process is iterative—as you gain understanding, you’ll return to earlier steps to rethink, refine, and rework your literature review.

Definition & Purpose E-Lecture (7:54)

Student & Faculty Voices (2:52)


This guide was produced under a Harvard University CIO Library Information Technology Fellows program grant (2011-2012):

Project Management and Content Development: Deborah Garson (Project Head) & Carla Lillvik
Library Instructional Technology Fellow: Erin Sisk, Ed.M.'12
E-Lecture Narrators: Eve Ewing and Marc Johnson, Ed.D. Candidates

Special thanks to the students and faculty of the Harvard Graduate School of Education; the staffs of the Gutman Library Research Services and of the Learning Technologies Center; and our colleagues at NC State Libraries.