Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Literature Reviews

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

The First Literature Review?

A clip of James Lind's A Treatise on Scurvy, 1783, from jameslindlibrary.orgScottish doctor James Lind, writing in 1753, realized that he couldn't write a short essay about scurvy without getting into a discussion of all the other work published on the subject, including weeding out the unreliable advice. "Indeed," said he, "before this subject could be set in a clear and proper light, it was necessary to remove a great deal of rubbish. Thus, what was first intended as a short paper to be published in the memoirs of our navy-society, has now swelled to a volume, not altogether suitable to the plan and institution of that laudable and learned body.” [See the original text at right, taken from]

Lind also included a bibliography: “The Bibliotheca Scorbutica, or the collection of authors on the scurvy, is placed at the latter end of the book, as proper to be consulted in the dictionary-way.”


Grant, M. J. and Booth, A. (2009), A typology of reviews: an analysis of 14 review types and associated methodologies. Health Information & Libraries Journal, 26: 91-108. doi:10.1111/j.1471-1842.2009.00848.x

Lind, J. (1753). A Treatise of the Scurvy. In three parts, containing an inquiry into the nature, causes and cure, of that disease. Together with a critical and chronological view of what has been published on the subject. Retrieved from


Carnwell, R., & Daly, W. (2001). Strategies for the construction of a critical review of the literature. Nurse Education in Practice, 1, 57-63. doi:10.1054/nepr.2001.0008

Cronin, P., Ryan, F., & Coughlan, M. (2008). Undertaking a literature review: A step-by-step approach. British Journal of Nursing, 17(1), 38-43. doi:10.12968/bjon.2008.17.1.28059

Froese, A. D., Gantz, B. S., & Henry,  A. L. (1998). Teaching students to write literature reviews: A meta-analytic model. Teaching of Psychology, 25, 102-105.

Grant, M. J. and Booth, A. (2009). A typology of reviews: An analysis of 14 review types and associated methodologies. Health Information & Libraries Journal, 26, 91-108. doi:10.1111/j.1471-1842.2009.00848.x

Kastner, M., Tricco, A.C., Soobiah, C. et al. (2012). What is the most appropriate knowledge synthesis method to conduct a review? Protocol for a scoping review. BMC Medical Research Methodology 12(114). doi:10.1186/1471-2288-12-114

McKenzie, J. E., & Brennan, S. E. (2017). Overviews of systematic reviews: Great promise, greater challenge. Systematic Reviews, 6, 185. doi:10.1186/s13643-017-0582-8

Moher, D., Stewart, L., & Shekelle, P. (2015). All in the family: Systematic reviews, rapid reviews, scoping reviews, realist reviews, and more. Systematic Reviews, 4, 183. doi:10.1186/s13643-015-0163-7

Munn, Z., Peters, M. D. J., Stern, C., Tufanaru, C., McArthur, A., & Aromataris, E. (2018). Systematic review or scoping review? Guidance for authors when choosing between a systematic or scoping review approach. BMC Medical Research Methodology, 18(1), 143. doi: 10.1186/s12874-018-0611-x

Webster, J., & Watson, R. (2002). Analyzing the past to prepare for the future: Writing a literature review. MIS Quarterly, 26(2), xiii-xxiii.

Xiao, Y., & Watson, M. (2019). Guidance on conducting a systematic literature review. Journal of Planning Education and Research, 39(1), 93–112.

Reference Books on Academic Research and Writing

These Library ebooks include or focus on the literature review and how to perform one.

Note: log into Okta if prompted.