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Evidence-Based Practice (EBP)

In addition to the basics of EBP and PICO, this guide answers questions about primary vs. secondary sources, where to look for evidence, and how to search to get the best results.

What Is a Literature Review?

A literature review is an integrated analysis of scholarly writings that are related directly to your research question. Put simply, it's a critical evaluation of what's already been written on a particular topic. It represents the literature that provides background information on your topic and shows a connection between those writings and your research question.

A literature review may be a stand-alone work or the introduction to a larger research paper, depending on the assignment. Rely heavily on the guidelines your instructor has given you.

What a Literature Review Is Not:

  • A list or summary of sources
  • An annotated bibliography
  • A grouping of broad, unrelated sources
  • A compilation of everything that has been written on a particular topic
  • Literary criticism (think English) or a book review

Why Literature Reviews Are Important

  • They explain the background of research on a topic
  • They demonstrate why a topic is significant to a subject area
  • They discover relationships between research studies/ideas
  • They identify major themes, concepts, and researchers on a topic
  • They identify critical gaps and points of disagreement
  • They discuss further research questions that logically come out of the previous studies

To Learn More about Conducting and Writing a Lit Review . . .

Monash University (in Australia) has created several extremely helpful, interactive tutorials. 

Keep Track of Your Sources!

A citation manager can be helpful way to work with large numbers of citations. See UMSL Libraries' Citing Sources guide for more information. Personally, I highly recommend Zotero—it's free, easy to use, and versatile. If you need help getting started with Zotero or one of the other citation managers, please contact a librarian.