Producing a literature review may also be part of graduate and post-graduate student work, including in the preparation of a thesis , dissertation , or a journal article. Literature reviews are also common in a research proposal or prospectus (the document that is approved before a student formally begins a dissertation or thesis). 
A fourth type, the systematic review , is often classified separately, but is essentially a literature review focused on a research question, trying to identify, appraise, select and synthesize all high-quality research evidence and arguments relevant to that question. A meta-analysis is typically a systematic review using statistical methods to effectively combine the data used on all selected studies to produce a more reliable result. 
A literature review is the process of reading, analyzing, evaluating, and summarizing scholarly materials about a specific topic. Also called a research literature review , review of literature , and state-of-the-art assessment.
The results of a literature review may be compiled in a report or they may serve as part of a research article, thesis, or grant proposal.
The process is iterative as you gain understanding, you’ll return to earlier steps to rethink, refine, and rework your literature review.
Project Management and Content Development : Deborah Garson (Project Head) & Carla Lillvik
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E-Lecture Narrators : Eve Ewing and Marc Johnson, Ed.D. Candidates
A literature review is an evaluative report of information found in the literature related to your selected area of study. The review should describe, summarise, evaluate and clarify this literature. It should give a theoretical base for the research and help you (the author) determine the nature of your research. Works which are irrelevant should be discarded and those which are peripheral should be looked at critically.
A literature review is more than the search for information, and goes beyond being a descriptive annotated bibliography. All works included in the review must be read, evaluated and analysed (which you would do for an annotated bibliography), but relationships between the literature must also be identified and articulated, in relation to your field of research.
Literature , in its broadest sense, is any single body of written works. More restrictively, literature is writing that is considered to be an art form, or any single writing deemed to have artistic or intellectual value, often due to deploying language in ways that differ from ordinary usage.
Literature can be classified according to whether it is fiction or non-fiction , and whether it is poetry or prose. It can be further distinguished according to major forms such as the novel , short story or drama ; and works are often categorized according to historical periods or their adherence to certain aesthetic features or expectations ( genre ).
The format of a review of literature may vary from discipline to discipline and from assignment to assignment.
A review may be a self-contained unit -- an end in itself -- or a preface to and rationale for engaging in primary research. A review is a required part of grant and research proposals and often a chapter in theses and dissertations.
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If you have to write an undergraduate dissertation, you may be required to begin by writing a literature review. A literature review is a search and evaluation of the available literature in your given subject or chosen topic area. It documents the state of the art with respect to the subject or topic you are writing about.
A literature review shows your readers that you have an in-depth grasp of your subject; and that you understand where your own research fits into and adds to an existing body of agreed knowledge.