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Biosciences Seminar (04-491/680): Literature review


Review articles comprehensively summarize article after article about what is already known on a topic.

Primary research articles report new findings. The review of literature in a primary article is based on significance and relevance to the research question rather than being comprehensive.  

Literature review

Summarize  |  Connect  |  Explain  |  Synthesize
"Summarize and explain what research has already been done on the topic (if it relates to your research question), citing the sources as you mention them. Point out the different ways researchers have treated the topic. 

Point out any connections between the sources especially where one source built upon prior study. 

Explain how this past work fits together to make your research question significant. 

Your literature review should ... lay the foundation for understanding your research and appreciating its value." 
Credit:  Washington & Lee University 

NOTE: commonly known scientific knowledge does not need to be referenced in a review of literature.

How do poster session authors decide what articles to include in a brief literature review? 

Take a look at some sample posters.  Can you infer from them why the authors are citing when they do? 

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Why do review articles exist?

Why do primary research articles always include a review of literature?​

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