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Types of academic writing

Learn more about the different types of academic writing students often create during their programs at RRU, such as essays and literature reviews.

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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)

Key Takeaways From the Psi Chi Webinar: So You Need to Write a Literature Review (APA Style)

Literature Review Tutorial (American University Library)

Literature Reviews (University of Waterloo)

SAGE Research Methods

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

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)

Synthesis Table for Literature Reviews (CSUMB Library)