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Types of Articles found in Scholarly Journals

Distinguish types of articles found in scholarly journals. Your professor might ask you to find a specific type of scholarly article and now you can be confident in your selection.

Literature Review Articles

A literature summarizes & analyzes published work on a topic in order to

  • evaluate the state of research on the topic.
  • provide an overview of previous research on a topic that critically evaluates, classifies, and compares what has already been published on a particular topic.
  • suggest future research and/or gaps in knowledge.
  • synthesize and place into context original research and scholarly literature relevant to the topic (as in the literature review prior within an empirical research article.

A literature review should try to answer questions such as


1. Who are the key researchers on this topic?

2. What has been the focus of the research efforts so far and what is the current status?

3. How have certain studies built on prior studies? Where are the connections? Are there new interpretations of the research?

4. Have there been any controversies or debate about the research? Is there consensus? Are there any contradictions?

5. Which areas have been identified as needing further research? Have any pathways been suggested?

6. How will your topic uniquely contribute to this body of knowledge?

7. Which methodologies have researchers used and which appear to be the most productive?

8. What sources of information or data were identified that might be useful to you?

9. How does your particular topic fit into the larger context of what has already been done?

10. How has the research that has already been done help frame your current investigation?

The format is usually a bibliographic essay; sources are briefly cited within the body of the essay, with full bibliographic citations at the end.

The introduction should define the topic and set the context for the literature review. It will include the author's perspective or point of view on the topic, how they have defined the scope of the topic (including what's not included), and how the review will be organized. It can point out overall trends, conflicts in methodology or conclusions, and gaps in the research.

The body of the review should organize the research into major topics and subtopics. These groupings may be by subject, (e.g., globalization of clothing manufacturing), type of research (e.g., case studies), methodology (e.g., qualitative), genre, chronology, or other common characteristics. Within these groups the author can then discuss the merits of each article and provide analysis and comparison of the importance of each article to similar ones.

The conclusion will summarize the main findings, make clear how this review of the literature supports (or not) the research to follow, and may point the direction for further research.

The list of references will include full citations for all of the items mentioned in the lit review.

In this context, the "literature" refers published scholarly work in a field. Literature includes journal articles, conference proceedings, technical reports, and books. 

A literature review can also be a short introductory section of a research article, report or policy paper that focuses on recent research. In the anatomy of a scholarly research article example, the literature review is a part of the introduction. Sometimes in empirical research, the literature review is its own section.