Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Types of Academic Writing

Learn more about the different types of academic writing students often create during their programs at RRU.

Literature reviews

A standard section of a thesis or major project is the literature review. As the name suggests, if you're completing a literature review, you will be examining the existing literature on a chosen topic, which will allow you:

  • to identify gaps in current knowledge;

  • to avoid reinventing the wheel (at the very least this will save time and it can stop you from making the same mistakes as others);

  • to carry on from where others have already reached (reviewing the field allows you to build on the platform of existing knowledge and ideas);

  • to identify other people working in the same and related fields (they provide you with a researcher network, which is a valuable resource indeed);

  • to increase your breadth of knowledge of the area in which your subject is located;

  • to identify seminal works in your area;

  • to provide the intellectual context for your own work (this will enable you to position your project in terms of related work);

  • to identify opposing views;

  • to put your own work in perspective;

  • to provide evidence that you can access the previous significant work in an area;

  • to discover transferable information and ideas (information and insights that may be relevant to your own project); and 

  • to discover transferable research methods (research methods that could be relevant to your own project). (Bourner & Greener, 2016, pp. 8-9) 

This narrated whiteboard video aims to demystify the process of writing a literature review and provide suggestions for how to get organized to write. The video uses a cocktail party analogy to illustrate the approach. Click for transcript.


Bourner, T., & Greener, S. (2016). The research journey: Four steps to success. In T. Greenfield & S. Greener (Eds.), Research methods for postgraduates (pp. 7-12). John Wiley & Sons.

Literature review resources

Get Lit: The Literature Review (Dr. Candace Hastings, Texas A&M University Writing Center. video and transcript available)

Literature Reviews (University of Waterloo)

SAGE Research Methods (requires login with RRU username and password)

Literature Review Tutorial (American University Library)

Sample outline: See the sections relating to the literature review section of a major research paper in Outlining a Research Paper (©2011 Amy L. Stuart, Associate Professor, University of South Florida)

Sample literature review: Critical Thinking and Transferability: A Review of the Literature (Reece, 2002)