Skip to Main Content


Databases, research tools, and other useful resources related to Commerce.

What is a Literature Review?

What is a Literature Review?

A literature review is a narrative compilation of selected academic sources related to your topic. Lit reviews describe the research you have studied and develop in your reason for the study, as well as provide criticism of past research. The end result should be a narrative showing the inherent need for your research in the field. Grounding your intended research in the current movements of the field will provide you with evidence of trends on where the field is headed. It also offers you the snapshot of the methodologies used in those studies. You can see what questions are being asked and find answers based on differing approaches to the topic.

An ideal literature review serves two purposes in your study. It strengthens your thesis and justifies your research question. By providing a critical summary of foundational and contemporary research on the topic, a literature review can show readers how your research fills important knowledge gaps. Pinpointing the other work in the field can show the unique perspective your study will provide. It can also offer a thoughtful critique of existing work that shows your full understanding of the opportunities and obstacles in your discipline.

Do not confuse it with:

  • an Annotated Bibliography, which lists citations to books, articles and documents, followed by a brief descriptive and evaluative paragraph,
  • a Book Review, or short critical discussion about the merits and weaknesses or a specific works,
  • or a Business Report, which provides analysis of a situation, either a real one or from a case study, applyng business principles and theories to identify a range of possible solutions to a problem. 


Why a Literature Review?

To demonstrate that you can:

  • effectively use research methods to collect and curate information that is useful in answering significant questions;
  • foster the ability to make decisions based on rigorous evidence;
  • effectively communicate research results in a written form;
  • develop the discipline to work with autonomy;
  • understand the value, purpose, and methodologies of insightful research.