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Literature Reviews

How to understand and write a literature review for an academic paper or research article.

What You're Reading

When deciding what to include in your review, it may help to understand what your options are and how to think about the different types of material means in terms of credibility as well as availability.


Type Primary research? Peer-reviewed or edited by professional editors?
Published journal article/article of record Yes Yes
Pre/postprint Yes No
Conference paper Yes Yes
Book chapter Yes Yes
Monograph Yes Yes
Thesis/dissertation Yes No
Blog/website post Can be updates of research but not usually full results No
Newspaper article Secondary research - discusses primary research Yes
Grey literature Can be Yes
Dataset Yes No


Gray Literature: What It Is & Where to Find It

Gray Literature

"Gray" literature is defined as information sources published outside of traditional journal means, and includes:

  • Hard to find studies, reports, or dissertations
  • Conference abstracts or papers
  • Governmental or private sector research
  • Clinical trials - ongoing or unpublished
  • Experts and researchers in the field

(Taken from “Literature Search: Databases and Gray Literature,” NIH Library, 2019)