Literature Searching

Overview and tips on how to conduct a literature search.

Literature Searching vs. Literature Review

You may hear about conducting a literature search and literature review inter-changeably. In general, a literature search is the process of seeking out and identifying the existing literature related to a topic or question of interest, while a literature review is the organized synthesis of the information found in the existing literature.

In research, a literature search is typically the first step of a literature review. The search identifies relevant existing studies and articles, and the review is the end result of analyzing, synthesizing, and organizing the information found in the search.

When writing a research paper, the literature review gives you a chance to:

  • Demonstrate your familiarity with the topic and its scholarly context
  • Develop a theoretical framework and methodology for your research
  • Show how your research addresses a knowledge gap or contributes to a debate
  • Evaluate the current state of research and demonstrate your knowledge of the scholarly debates around your topic. 
References/Additional Resources

  Baker, J. D. (2016). The Purpose, Process, and Methods of Writing a Literature Review. AORN Journal, 103(3), 265–269.

  Patrick, L. J., & Munro, S. (2004). The Literature Review: Demystifying the Literature Search. The Diabetes Educator, 30(1), 30–38. 


Last Updated: Feb 7, 2024 1:26 PM