A literature review or survey summarizes the knowledge of a particular area or field of study. Without a thorough literature review the academic may be repeating research that has already been discovered and the professional may be losing time and money to recreate what is already available. Literature reviews come in two types.
The Stand-Alone Survey
- The Survey as a Section Within a Document
Literature reviews/surveys are part of dissertations, theses, research reports and scholarly journal articles; these types of documents include a section or chapter that discusses what has gone before and how that supports or relates to the issue under current study. In these cases, the review/survey has little or no analysis. The review/survey may be part of the introduction or in a separately labelled section usually placed after the introduction.
A literature review/survey may stand alone as an individual document in which the history of the topic is reported and then analyzed for such things as trends, controversial issues, if any, and what still needs to be studied. These articles are valuable time-savers for professionals and researchers who need a quick introduction or analysis of a topic.