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How to Write a Literature Review | Guide, Examples, & Templates

Published on January 2, 2023 by Shona McCombes . Revised on September 11, 2023.

What is a literature review? A literature review is a survey of scholarly sources on a specific topic. It provides an overview of current knowledge, allowing you to identify relevant theories, methods, and gaps in the existing research that you can later apply to your paper, thesis, or dissertation topic .

There are five key steps to writing a literature review:

  • Search for relevant literature
  • Evaluate sources
  • Identify themes, debates, and gaps
  • Outline the structure
  • Write your literature review

A good literature review doesn’t just summarize sources—it analyzes, synthesizes , and critically evaluates to give a clear picture of the state of knowledge on the subject.

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Table of contents

What is the purpose of a literature review, examples of literature reviews, step 1 – search for relevant literature, step 2 – evaluate and select sources, step 3 – identify themes, debates, and gaps, step 4 – outline your literature review’s structure, step 5 – write your literature review, free lecture slides, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions, introduction.

  • Quick Run-through
  • Step 1 & 2

When you write a thesis , dissertation , or research paper , you will likely have to conduct a literature review to situate your research within existing knowledge. The literature review gives you a chance to:

  • Demonstrate your familiarity with the topic and its scholarly context
  • Develop a theoretical framework and methodology for your research
  • Position your work in relation to other researchers and theorists
  • Show how your research addresses a gap or contributes to a debate
  • Evaluate the current state of research and demonstrate your knowledge of the scholarly debates around your topic.

Writing literature reviews is a particularly important skill if you want to apply for graduate school or pursue a career in research. We’ve written a step-by-step guide that you can follow below.

Literature review guide

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how to do research literature review

Writing literature reviews can be quite challenging! A good starting point could be to look at some examples, depending on what kind of literature review you’d like to write.

  • Example literature review #1: “Why Do People Migrate? A Review of the Theoretical Literature” ( Theoretical literature review about the development of economic migration theory from the 1950s to today.)
  • Example literature review #2: “Literature review as a research methodology: An overview and guidelines” ( Methodological literature review about interdisciplinary knowledge acquisition and production.)
  • Example literature review #3: “The Use of Technology in English Language Learning: A Literature Review” ( Thematic literature review about the effects of technology on language acquisition.)
  • Example literature review #4: “Learners’ Listening Comprehension Difficulties in English Language Learning: A Literature Review” ( Chronological literature review about how the concept of listening skills has changed over time.)

You can also check out our templates with literature review examples and sample outlines at the links below.

Download Word doc Download Google doc

Before you begin searching for literature, you need a clearly defined topic .

If you are writing the literature review section of a dissertation or research paper, you will search for literature related to your research problem and questions .

Make a list of keywords

Start by creating a list of keywords related to your research question. Include each of the key concepts or variables you’re interested in, and list any synonyms and related terms. You can add to this list as you discover new keywords in the process of your literature search.

  • Social media, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, TikTok
  • Body image, self-perception, self-esteem, mental health
  • Generation Z, teenagers, adolescents, youth

Search for relevant sources

Use your keywords to begin searching for sources. Some useful databases to search for journals and articles include:

  • Your university’s library catalogue
  • Google Scholar
  • Project Muse (humanities and social sciences)
  • Medline (life sciences and biomedicine)
  • EconLit (economics)
  • Inspec (physics, engineering and computer science)

You can also use boolean operators to help narrow down your search.

Make sure to read the abstract to find out whether an article is relevant to your question. When you find a useful book or article, you can check the bibliography to find other relevant sources.

You likely won’t be able to read absolutely everything that has been written on your topic, so it will be necessary to evaluate which sources are most relevant to your research question.

For each publication, ask yourself:

  • What question or problem is the author addressing?
  • What are the key concepts and how are they defined?
  • What are the key theories, models, and methods?
  • Does the research use established frameworks or take an innovative approach?
  • What are the results and conclusions of the study?
  • How does the publication relate to other literature in the field? Does it confirm, add to, or challenge established knowledge?
  • What are the strengths and weaknesses of the research?

Make sure the sources you use are credible , and make sure you read any landmark studies and major theories in your field of research.

You can use our template to summarize and evaluate sources you’re thinking about using. Click on either button below to download.

Take notes and cite your sources

As you read, you should also begin the writing process. Take notes that you can later incorporate into the text of your literature review.

It is important to keep track of your sources with citations to avoid plagiarism . It can be helpful to make an annotated bibliography , where you compile full citation information and write a paragraph of summary and analysis for each source. This helps you remember what you read and saves time later in the process.

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To begin organizing your literature review’s argument and structure, be sure you understand the connections and relationships between the sources you’ve read. Based on your reading and notes, you can look for:

  • Trends and patterns (in theory, method or results): do certain approaches become more or less popular over time?
  • Themes: what questions or concepts recur across the literature?
  • Debates, conflicts and contradictions: where do sources disagree?
  • Pivotal publications: are there any influential theories or studies that changed the direction of the field?
  • Gaps: what is missing from the literature? Are there weaknesses that need to be addressed?

This step will help you work out the structure of your literature review and (if applicable) show how your own research will contribute to existing knowledge.

  • Most research has focused on young women.
  • There is an increasing interest in the visual aspects of social media.
  • But there is still a lack of robust research on highly visual platforms like Instagram and Snapchat—this is a gap that you could address in your own research.

There are various approaches to organizing the body of a literature review. Depending on the length of your literature review, you can combine several of these strategies (for example, your overall structure might be thematic, but each theme is discussed chronologically).

Chronological

The simplest approach is to trace the development of the topic over time. However, if you choose this strategy, be careful to avoid simply listing and summarizing sources in order.

Try to analyze patterns, turning points and key debates that have shaped the direction of the field. Give your interpretation of how and why certain developments occurred.

If you have found some recurring central themes, you can organize your literature review into subsections that address different aspects of the topic.

For example, if you are reviewing literature about inequalities in migrant health outcomes, key themes might include healthcare policy, language barriers, cultural attitudes, legal status, and economic access.

Methodological

If you draw your sources from different disciplines or fields that use a variety of research methods , you might want to compare the results and conclusions that emerge from different approaches. For example:

  • Look at what results have emerged in qualitative versus quantitative research
  • Discuss how the topic has been approached by empirical versus theoretical scholarship
  • Divide the literature into sociological, historical, and cultural sources

Theoretical

A literature review is often the foundation for a theoretical framework . You can use it to discuss various theories, models, and definitions of key concepts.

You might argue for the relevance of a specific theoretical approach, or combine various theoretical concepts to create a framework for your research.

Like any other academic text , your literature review should have an introduction , a main body, and a conclusion . What you include in each depends on the objective of your literature review.

The introduction should clearly establish the focus and purpose of the literature review.

Depending on the length of your literature review, you might want to divide the body into subsections. You can use a subheading for each theme, time period, or methodological approach.

As you write, you can follow these tips:

  • Summarize and synthesize: give an overview of the main points of each source and combine them into a coherent whole
  • Analyze and interpret: don’t just paraphrase other researchers — add your own interpretations where possible, discussing the significance of findings in relation to the literature as a whole
  • Critically evaluate: mention the strengths and weaknesses of your sources
  • Write in well-structured paragraphs: use transition words and topic sentences to draw connections, comparisons and contrasts

In the conclusion, you should summarize the key findings you have taken from the literature and emphasize their significance.

When you’ve finished writing and revising your literature review, don’t forget to proofread thoroughly before submitting. Not a language expert? Check out Scribbr’s professional proofreading services !

This article has been adapted into lecture slides that you can use to teach your students about writing a literature review.

Scribbr slides are free to use, customize, and distribute for educational purposes.

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If you want to know more about the research process , methodology , research bias , or statistics , make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples.

  • Sampling methods
  • Simple random sampling
  • Stratified sampling
  • Cluster sampling
  • Likert scales
  • Reproducibility

 Statistics

  • Null hypothesis
  • Statistical power
  • Probability distribution
  • Effect size
  • Poisson distribution

Research bias

  • Optimism bias
  • Cognitive bias
  • Implicit bias
  • Hawthorne effect
  • Anchoring bias
  • Explicit bias

A literature review is a survey of scholarly sources (such as books, journal articles, and theses) related to a specific topic or research question .

It is often written as part of a thesis, dissertation , or research paper , in order to situate your work in relation to existing knowledge.

There are several reasons to conduct a literature review at the beginning of a research project:

  • To familiarize yourself with the current state of knowledge on your topic
  • To ensure that you’re not just repeating what others have already done
  • To identify gaps in knowledge and unresolved problems that your research can address
  • To develop your theoretical framework and methodology
  • To provide an overview of the key findings and debates on the topic

Writing the literature review shows your reader how your work relates to existing research and what new insights it will contribute.

The literature review usually comes near the beginning of your thesis or dissertation . After the introduction , it grounds your research in a scholarly field and leads directly to your theoretical framework or methodology .

A literature review is a survey of credible sources on a topic, often used in dissertations , theses, and research papers . Literature reviews give an overview of knowledge on a subject, helping you identify relevant theories and methods, as well as gaps in existing research. Literature reviews are set up similarly to other  academic texts , with an introduction , a main body, and a conclusion .

An  annotated bibliography is a list of  source references that has a short description (called an annotation ) for each of the sources. It is often assigned as part of the research process for a  paper .  

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A literature review is a document or section of a document that collects key sources on a topic and discusses those sources in conversation with each other (also called synthesis ). The lit review is an important genre in many disciplines, not just literature (i.e., the study of works of literature such as novels and plays). When we say “literature review” or refer to “the literature,” we are talking about the research ( scholarship ) in a given field. You will often see the terms “the research,” “the scholarship,” and “the literature” used mostly interchangeably.

Where, when, and why would I write a lit review?

There are a number of different situations where you might write a literature review, each with slightly different expectations; different disciplines, too, have field-specific expectations for what a literature review is and does. For instance, in the humanities, authors might include more overt argumentation and interpretation of source material in their literature reviews, whereas in the sciences, authors are more likely to report study designs and results in their literature reviews; these differences reflect these disciplines’ purposes and conventions in scholarship. You should always look at examples from your own discipline and talk to professors or mentors in your field to be sure you understand your discipline’s conventions, for literature reviews as well as for any other genre.

A literature review can be a part of a research paper or scholarly article, usually falling after the introduction and before the research methods sections. In these cases, the lit review just needs to cover scholarship that is important to the issue you are writing about; sometimes it will also cover key sources that informed your research methodology.

Lit reviews can also be standalone pieces, either as assignments in a class or as publications. In a class, a lit review may be assigned to help students familiarize themselves with a topic and with scholarship in their field, get an idea of the other researchers working on the topic they’re interested in, find gaps in existing research in order to propose new projects, and/or develop a theoretical framework and methodology for later research. As a publication, a lit review usually is meant to help make other scholars’ lives easier by collecting and summarizing, synthesizing, and analyzing existing research on a topic. This can be especially helpful for students or scholars getting into a new research area, or for directing an entire community of scholars toward questions that have not yet been answered.

What are the parts of a lit review?

Most lit reviews use a basic introduction-body-conclusion structure; if your lit review is part of a larger paper, the introduction and conclusion pieces may be just a few sentences while you focus most of your attention on the body. If your lit review is a standalone piece, the introduction and conclusion take up more space and give you a place to discuss your goals, research methods, and conclusions separately from where you discuss the literature itself.

Introduction:

  • An introductory paragraph that explains what your working topic and thesis is
  • A forecast of key topics or texts that will appear in the review
  • Potentially, a description of how you found sources and how you analyzed them for inclusion and discussion in the review (more often found in published, standalone literature reviews than in lit review sections in an article or research paper)
  • Summarize and synthesize: Give an overview of the main points of each source and combine them into a coherent whole
  • Analyze and interpret: Don’t just paraphrase other researchers – add your own interpretations where possible, discussing the significance of findings in relation to the literature as a whole
  • Critically Evaluate: Mention the strengths and weaknesses of your sources
  • Write in well-structured paragraphs: Use transition words and topic sentence to draw connections, comparisons, and contrasts.

Conclusion:

  • Summarize the key findings you have taken from the literature and emphasize their significance
  • Connect it back to your primary research question

How should I organize my lit review?

Lit reviews can take many different organizational patterns depending on what you are trying to accomplish with the review. Here are some examples:

  • Chronological : The simplest approach is to trace the development of the topic over time, which helps familiarize the audience with the topic (for instance if you are introducing something that is not commonly known in your field). If you choose this strategy, be careful to avoid simply listing and summarizing sources in order. Try to analyze the patterns, turning points, and key debates that have shaped the direction of the field. Give your interpretation of how and why certain developments occurred (as mentioned previously, this may not be appropriate in your discipline — check with a teacher or mentor if you’re unsure).
  • Thematic : If you have found some recurring central themes that you will continue working with throughout your piece, you can organize your literature review into subsections that address different aspects of the topic. For example, if you are reviewing literature about women and religion, key themes can include the role of women in churches and the religious attitude towards women.
  • Qualitative versus quantitative research
  • Empirical versus theoretical scholarship
  • Divide the research by sociological, historical, or cultural sources
  • Theoretical : In many humanities articles, the literature review is the foundation for the theoretical framework. You can use it to discuss various theories, models, and definitions of key concepts. You can argue for the relevance of a specific theoretical approach or combine various theorical concepts to create a framework for your research.

What are some strategies or tips I can use while writing my lit review?

Any lit review is only as good as the research it discusses; make sure your sources are well-chosen and your research is thorough. Don’t be afraid to do more research if you discover a new thread as you’re writing. More info on the research process is available in our "Conducting Research" resources .

As you’re doing your research, create an annotated bibliography ( see our page on the this type of document ). Much of the information used in an annotated bibliography can be used also in a literature review, so you’ll be not only partially drafting your lit review as you research, but also developing your sense of the larger conversation going on among scholars, professionals, and any other stakeholders in your topic.

Usually you will need to synthesize research rather than just summarizing it. This means drawing connections between sources to create a picture of the scholarly conversation on a topic over time. Many student writers struggle to synthesize because they feel they don’t have anything to add to the scholars they are citing; here are some strategies to help you:

  • It often helps to remember that the point of these kinds of syntheses is to show your readers how you understand your research, to help them read the rest of your paper.
  • Writing teachers often say synthesis is like hosting a dinner party: imagine all your sources are together in a room, discussing your topic. What are they saying to each other?
  • Look at the in-text citations in each paragraph. Are you citing just one source for each paragraph? This usually indicates summary only. When you have multiple sources cited in a paragraph, you are more likely to be synthesizing them (not always, but often
  • Read more about synthesis here.

The most interesting literature reviews are often written as arguments (again, as mentioned at the beginning of the page, this is discipline-specific and doesn’t work for all situations). Often, the literature review is where you can establish your research as filling a particular gap or as relevant in a particular way. You have some chance to do this in your introduction in an article, but the literature review section gives a more extended opportunity to establish the conversation in the way you would like your readers to see it. You can choose the intellectual lineage you would like to be part of and whose definitions matter most to your thinking (mostly humanities-specific, but this goes for sciences as well). In addressing these points, you argue for your place in the conversation, which tends to make the lit review more compelling than a simple reporting of other sources.

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What is a literature review?

A literature review is an integrated analysis -- not just a summary-- of scholarly writings and other relevant evidence related directly to your research question.  That is, it represents a synthesis of the evidence that provides background information on your topic and shows a association between the evidence and your research question.

A literature review may be a stand alone work or the introduction to a larger research paper, depending on the assignment.  Rely heavily on the guidelines your instructor has given you.

Why is it important?

A literature review is important because it:

  • Explains the background of research on a topic.
  • Demonstrates why a topic is significant to a subject area.
  • Discovers relationships between research studies/ideas.
  • Identifies major themes, concepts, and researchers on a topic.
  • Identifies critical gaps and points of disagreement.
  • Discusses further research questions that logically come out of the previous studies.

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1. Choose a topic. Define your research question.

Your literature review should be guided by your central research question.  The literature represents background and research developments related to a specific research question, interpreted and analyzed by you in a synthesized way.

  • Make sure your research question is not too broad or too narrow.  Is it manageable?
  • Begin writing down terms that are related to your question. These will be useful for searches later.
  • If you have the opportunity, discuss your topic with your professor and your class mates.

2. Decide on the scope of your review

How many studies do you need to look at? How comprehensive should it be? How many years should it cover? 

  • This may depend on your assignment.  How many sources does the assignment require?

3. Select the databases you will use to conduct your searches.

Make a list of the databases you will search. 

Where to find databases:

  • use the tabs on this guide
  • Find other databases in the Nursing Information Resources web page
  • More on the Medical Library web page
  • ... and more on the Yale University Library web page

4. Conduct your searches to find the evidence. Keep track of your searches.

  • Use the key words in your question, as well as synonyms for those words, as terms in your search. Use the database tutorials for help.
  • Save the searches in the databases. This saves time when you want to redo, or modify, the searches. It is also helpful to use as a guide is the searches are not finding any useful results.
  • Review the abstracts of research studies carefully. This will save you time.
  • Use the bibliographies and references of research studies you find to locate others.
  • Check with your professor, or a subject expert in the field, if you are missing any key works in the field.
  • Ask your librarian for help at any time.
  • Use a citation manager, such as EndNote as the repository for your citations. See the EndNote tutorials for help.

Review the literature

Some questions to help you analyze the research:

  • What was the research question of the study you are reviewing? What were the authors trying to discover?
  • Was the research funded by a source that could influence the findings?
  • What were the research methodologies? Analyze its literature review, the samples and variables used, the results, and the conclusions.
  • Does the research seem to be complete? Could it have been conducted more soundly? What further questions does it raise?
  • If there are conflicting studies, why do you think that is?
  • How are the authors viewed in the field? Has this study been cited? If so, how has it been analyzed?

Tips: 

  • Review the abstracts carefully.  
  • Keep careful notes so that you may track your thought processes during the research process.
  • Create a matrix of the studies for easy analysis, and synthesis, across all of the studies.
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  • Literature Review: The What, Why and How-to Guide
  • Introduction

Literature Review: The What, Why and How-to Guide — Introduction

  • Getting Started
  • How to Pick a Topic
  • Strategies to Find Sources
  • Evaluating Sources & Lit. Reviews
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What are Literature Reviews?

So, what is a literature review? "A literature review is an account of what has been published on a topic by accredited scholars and researchers. In writing the literature review, your purpose is to convey to your reader what knowledge and ideas have been established on a topic, and what their strengths and weaknesses are. As a piece of writing, the literature review must be defined by a guiding concept (e.g., your research objective, the problem or issue you are discussing, or your argumentative thesis). It is not just a descriptive list of the material available, or a set of summaries." Taylor, D.  The literature review: A few tips on conducting it . University of Toronto Health Sciences Writing Centre.

Goals of Literature Reviews

What are the goals of creating a Literature Review?  A literature could be written to accomplish different aims:

  • To develop a theory or evaluate an existing theory
  • To summarize the historical or existing state of a research topic
  • Identify a problem in a field of research 

Baumeister, R. F., & Leary, M. R. (1997). Writing narrative literature reviews .  Review of General Psychology , 1 (3), 311-320.

What kinds of sources require a Literature Review?

  • A research paper assigned in a course
  • A thesis or dissertation
  • A grant proposal
  • An article intended for publication in a journal

All these instances require you to collect what has been written about your research topic so that you can demonstrate how your own research sheds new light on the topic.

Types of Literature Reviews

What kinds of literature reviews are written?

Narrative review: The purpose of this type of review is to describe the current state of the research on a specific topic/research and to offer a critical analysis of the literature reviewed. Studies are grouped by research/theoretical categories, and themes and trends, strengths and weakness, and gaps are identified. The review ends with a conclusion section which summarizes the findings regarding the state of the research of the specific study, the gaps identify and if applicable, explains how the author's research will address gaps identify in the review and expand the knowledge on the topic reviewed.

  • Example : Predictors and Outcomes of U.S. Quality Maternity Leave: A Review and Conceptual Framework:  10.1177/08948453211037398  

Systematic review : "The authors of a systematic review use a specific procedure to search the research literature, select the studies to include in their review, and critically evaluate the studies they find." (p. 139). Nelson, L. K. (2013). Research in Communication Sciences and Disorders . Plural Publishing.

  • Example : The effect of leave policies on increasing fertility: a systematic review:  10.1057/s41599-022-01270-w

Meta-analysis : "Meta-analysis is a method of reviewing research findings in a quantitative fashion by transforming the data from individual studies into what is called an effect size and then pooling and analyzing this information. The basic goal in meta-analysis is to explain why different outcomes have occurred in different studies." (p. 197). Roberts, M. C., & Ilardi, S. S. (2003). Handbook of Research Methods in Clinical Psychology . Blackwell Publishing.

  • Example : Employment Instability and Fertility in Europe: A Meta-Analysis:  10.1215/00703370-9164737

Meta-synthesis : "Qualitative meta-synthesis is a type of qualitative study that uses as data the findings from other qualitative studies linked by the same or related topic." (p.312). Zimmer, L. (2006). Qualitative meta-synthesis: A question of dialoguing with texts .  Journal of Advanced Nursing , 53 (3), 311-318.

  • Example : Women’s perspectives on career successes and barriers: A qualitative meta-synthesis:  10.1177/05390184221113735

Literature Reviews in the Health Sciences

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Introduction

Literature reviews take time. here is some general information to know before you start.  .

  •  VIDEO -- This video is a great overview of the entire process.  (2020; North Carolina State University Libraries) --The transcript is included --This is for everyone; ignore the mention of "graduate students" --9.5 minutes, and every second is important  
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  • NOT A RESEARCH ARTICLE -- A literature review follows a different style, format, and structure from a research article.  
 
Reports on the work of others. Reports on original research.
To examine and evaluate previous literature.

To test a hypothesis and/or make an argument.

May include a short literature review to introduce the subject.

Steps to Completing a Literature Review

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How to Write a Literature Review: Six Steps to Get You from Start to Finish

Writing-a-literature-review-six-steps-to-get-you-from-start-to-finish.

Tanya Golash-Boza, Associate Professor of Sociology, University of California

February 03, 2022

Writing a literature review is often the most daunting part of writing an article, book, thesis, or dissertation. “The literature” seems (and often is) massive. I have found it helpful to be as systematic as possible when completing this gargantuan task.

Sonja Foss and William Walters* describe an efficient and effective way of writing a literature review. Their system provides an excellent guide for getting through the massive amounts of literature for any purpose: in a dissertation, an M.A. thesis, or preparing a research article for publication  in any field of study. Below is a  summary of the steps they outline as well as a step-by-step method for writing a literature review.

How to Write a Literature Review

Step One: Decide on your areas of research:

Before you begin to search for articles or books, decide beforehand what areas you are going to research. Make sure that you only get articles and books in those areas, even if you come across fascinating books in other areas. A literature review I am currently working on, for example, explores barriers to higher education for undocumented students.

Step Two: Search for the literature:

Conduct a comprehensive bibliographic search of books and articles in your area. Read the abstracts online and download and/or print those articles that pertain to your area of research. Find books in the library that are relevant and check them out. Set a specific time frame for how long you will search. It should not take more than two or three dedicated sessions.

Step Three: Find relevant excerpts in your books and articles:

Skim the contents of each book and article and look specifically for these five things:

1. Claims, conclusions, and findings about the constructs you are investigating

2. Definitions of terms

3. Calls for follow-up studies relevant to your project

4. Gaps you notice in the literature

5. Disagreement about the constructs you are investigating

When you find any of these five things, type the relevant excerpt directly into a Word document. Don’t summarize, as summarizing takes longer than simply typing the excerpt. Make sure to note the name of the author and the page number following each excerpt. Do this for each article and book that you have in your stack of literature. When you are done, print out your excerpts.

Step Four: Code the literature:

Get out a pair of scissors and cut each excerpt out. Now, sort the pieces of paper into similar topics. Figure out what the main themes are. Place each excerpt into a themed pile. Make sure each note goes into a pile. If there are excerpts that you can’t figure out where they belong, separate those and go over them again at the end to see if you need new categories. When you finish, place each stack of notes into an envelope labeled with the name of the theme.

Step Five: Create Your Conceptual Schema:

Type, in large font, the name of each of your coded themes. Print this out, and cut the titles into individual slips of paper. Take the slips of paper to a table or large workspace and figure out the best way to organize them. Are there ideas that go together or that are in dialogue with each other? Are there ideas that contradict each other? Move around the slips of paper until you come up with a way of organizing the codes that makes sense. Write the conceptual schema down before you forget or someone cleans up your slips of paper.

Step Six: Begin to Write Your Literature Review:

Choose any section of your conceptual schema to begin with. You can begin anywhere, because you already know the order. Find the envelope with the excerpts in them and lay them on the table in front of you. Figure out a mini-conceptual schema based on that theme by grouping together those excerpts that say the same thing. Use that mini-conceptual schema to write up your literature review based on the excerpts that you have in front of you. Don’t forget to include the citations as you write, so as not to lose track of who said what. Repeat this for each section of your literature review.

Once you complete these six steps, you will have a complete draft of your literature review. The great thing about this process is that it breaks down into manageable steps something that seems enormous: writing a literature review.

I think that Foss and Walter’s system for writing the literature review is ideal for a dissertation, because a Ph.D. candidate has already read widely in his or her field through graduate seminars and comprehensive exams.

It may be more challenging for M.A. students, unless you are already familiar with the literature. It is always hard to figure out how much you need to read for deep meaning, and how much you just need to know what others have said. That balance will depend on how much you already know.

For people writing literature reviews for articles or books, this system also could work, especially when you are writing in a field with which you are already familiar. The mere fact of having a system can make the literature review seem much less daunting, so I recommend this system for anyone who feels overwhelmed by the prospect of writing a literature review.

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Conducting a Literature Review

  • Literature Review
  • Developing a Topic
  • Planning Your Literature Review
  • Developing a Search Strategy
  • Managing Citations
  • Critical Appraisal Tools
  • Writing a Literature Review

Before You Begin to Write.....

Do you have enough information? If you are not sure,

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Has my search been wide enough to insure I've found all the relevant material?
  • Has it been narrow enough to exclude irrelevant material?
  • Is the number of sources I've used appropriate for the length of my paper?

You may have enough information for your literature review when:

  • You've used multiple databases and other resources (web portals, repositories, etc.) to get a variety of perspectives on the research topic.
  • The same citations are showing up in a variety of databases.
  • Your advisor and other trusted experts say you have enough!

You have to stop somewhere and get on with the writing process!

Writing Tips

A literature review is not a list describing or summarizing one piece of literature after another. It’s usually a bad sign to see every paragraph beginning with the name of a researcher. Instead, organize the literature review into sections that present themes or identify trends, including relevant theory. You are not trying to list all the material published, but to synthesize and evaluate it according to the guiding concept of your thesis or research question

If you are writing an  annotated bibliography , you may need to summarize each item briefly, but should still follow through themes and concepts and do some critical assessment of material. Use an overall introduction and conclusion to state the scope of your coverage and to formulate the question, problem, or concept your chosen material illuminates. Usually you will have the option of grouping items into sections—this helps you indicate comparisons and relationships. You may be able to write a paragraph or so to introduce the focus of each section

Layout of Writing a Literature Review

Generally, the purpose of a review is to analyze critically a segment of a published body of knowledge through summary, classification, and comparison of prior research studies, reviews of literature, and theoretical articles.

Writing the introduction:

In the introduction, you should:

  • Define or identify the general topic, issue, or area of concern, thus providing an appropriate context for reviewing the literature.
  • Point out overall trends in what has been published about the topic; or conflicts in theory, methodology, evidence, and conclusions; or gaps in research and scholarship; or a single problem or new perspective of immediate interest.
  • Establish the writer’s reason (point of view) for reviewing the literature; explain the criteria to be used in analyzing and comparing literature and the organization of the review (sequence); and, when necessary, state why certain literature is or is not included (scope).

Writing the body:

In the body, you should:

  • Group research studies and other types of literature (reviews, theoretical articles, case studies, etc.) according to common denominators such as qualitative versus quantitative approaches, conclusions of authors, specific purpose or objective, chronology, etc.
  • Summarize individual studies or articles with as much or as little detail as each merits according to its comparative importance in the literature, remembering that space (length) denotes significance.
  • Provide the reader with strong “umbrella” sentences at beginnings of paragraphs, “signposts” throughout, and brief “so what” summary sentences at intermediate points in the review to aid in understanding comparisons and analyses.

WRITING TIP:  As you are writing the literature review you will mention the author names and the publication years in your text, but you will still need to compile comprehensive list citations for each entry at the end of your review. Follow  APA, MLA, or Chicago style guidelines , as your course requires.

Writing the conclusion:

In the conclusion, you should:

  • Summarize major contributions of significant studies and articles to the body of knowledge under review, maintaining the focus established in the introduction.
  • Evaluate the current “state of the art” for the body of knowledge reviewed, pointing out major methodological flaws or gaps in research, inconsistencies in theory and findings, and areas or issues pertinent to future study.
  • Conclude by providing some insight into the relationship between the central topic of the literature review and a larger area of study such as a discipline, a scientific endeavor, or a profession.
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Conduct a literature review

What is a literature review.

A literature review is a summary of the published work in a field of study. This can be a section of a larger paper or article, or can be the focus of an entire paper. Literature reviews show that you have examined the breadth of knowledge and can justify your thesis or research questions. They are also valuable tools for other researchers who need to find a summary of that field of knowledge.

Unlike an annotated bibliography, which is a list of sources with short descriptions, a literature review synthesizes sources into a summary that has a thesis or statement of purpose—stated or implied—at its core.

How do I write a literature review?

Step 1: define your research scope.

  • What is the specific research question that your literature review helps to define?
  • Are there a maximum or minimum number of sources that your review should include?

Ask us if you have questions about refining your topic, search methods, writing tips, or citation management.

Step 2: Identify the literature

Start by searching broadly. Literature for your review will typically be acquired through scholarly books, journal articles, and/or dissertations. Develop an understanding of what is out there, what terms are accurate and helpful, etc., and keep track of all of it with citation management tools . If you need help figuring out key terms and where to search, ask us .

Use citation searching to track how scholars interact with, and build upon, previous research:

  • Mine the references cited section of each relevant source for additional key sources
  • Use Google Scholar or Scopus to find other sources that have cited a particular work

Step 3: Critically analyze the literature

Key to your literature review is a critical analysis of the literature collected around your topic. The analysis will explore relationships, major themes, and any critical gaps in the research expressed in the work. Read and summarize each source with an eye toward analyzing authority, currency, coverage, methodology, and relationship to other works. The University of Toronto's Writing Center provides a comprehensive list of questions you can use to analyze your sources.

Step 4: Categorize your resources

Divide the available resources that pertain to your research into categories reflecting their roles in addressing your research question. Possible ways to categorize resources include organization by:

  • methodology
  • theoretical/philosophical approach

Regardless of the division, each category should be accompanied by thorough discussions and explanations of strengths and weaknesses, value to the overall survey, and comparisons with similar sources. You may have enough resources when:

  • You've used multiple databases and other resources (web portals, repositories, etc.) to get a variety of perspectives on the research topic.
  • The same citations are showing up in a variety of databases.

Additional resources

Undergraduate student resources.

  • Literature Review Handout (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
  • Learn how to write a review of literature (University of Wisconsin-Madison)

Graduate student and faculty resources

  • Information Research Strategies (University of Arizona)
  • Literature Reviews: An Overview for Graduate Students (NC State University)
  • Oliver, P. (2012). Succeeding with Your Literature Review: A Handbook for Students [ebook]
  • Machi, L. A. & McEvoy, B. T. (2016). The Literature Review: Six Steps to Success [ebook]
  • Graustein, J. S. (2012). How to Write an Exceptional Thesis or Dissertation: A Step-by-Step Guide from Proposal to Successful Defense [ebook]
  • Thomas, R. M. & Brubaker, D. L. (2008). Theses and Dissertations: A Guide to Planning, Research, and Writing

how to do research literature review

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What is a Literature Review? How to Write It (with Examples)

literature review

A literature review is a critical analysis and synthesis of existing research on a particular topic. It provides an overview of the current state of knowledge, identifies gaps, and highlights key findings in the literature. 1 The purpose of a literature review is to situate your own research within the context of existing scholarship, demonstrating your understanding of the topic and showing how your work contributes to the ongoing conversation in the field. Learning how to write a literature review is a critical tool for successful research. Your ability to summarize and synthesize prior research pertaining to a certain topic demonstrates your grasp on the topic of study, and assists in the learning process. 

Table of Contents

  • What is the purpose of literature review? 
  • a. Habitat Loss and Species Extinction: 
  • b. Range Shifts and Phenological Changes: 
  • c. Ocean Acidification and Coral Reefs: 
  • d. Adaptive Strategies and Conservation Efforts: 

How to write a good literature review 

  • Choose a Topic and Define the Research Question: 
  • Decide on the Scope of Your Review: 
  • Select Databases for Searches: 
  • Conduct Searches and Keep Track: 
  • Review the Literature: 
  • Organize and Write Your Literature Review: 
  • How to write a literature review faster with Paperpal? 
  • Frequently asked questions 

What is a literature review?

A well-conducted literature review demonstrates the researcher’s familiarity with the existing literature, establishes the context for their own research, and contributes to scholarly conversations on the topic. One of the purposes of a literature review is also to help researchers avoid duplicating previous work and ensure that their research is informed by and builds upon the existing body of knowledge.

how to do research literature review

What is the purpose of literature review?

A literature review serves several important purposes within academic and research contexts. Here are some key objectives and functions of a literature review: 2  

1. Contextualizing the Research Problem: The literature review provides a background and context for the research problem under investigation. It helps to situate the study within the existing body of knowledge. 

2. Identifying Gaps in Knowledge: By identifying gaps, contradictions, or areas requiring further research, the researcher can shape the research question and justify the significance of the study. This is crucial for ensuring that the new research contributes something novel to the field. 

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3. Understanding Theoretical and Conceptual Frameworks: Literature reviews help researchers gain an understanding of the theoretical and conceptual frameworks used in previous studies. This aids in the development of a theoretical framework for the current research. 

4. Providing Methodological Insights: Another purpose of literature reviews is that it allows researchers to learn about the methodologies employed in previous studies. This can help in choosing appropriate research methods for the current study and avoiding pitfalls that others may have encountered. 

5. Establishing Credibility: A well-conducted literature review demonstrates the researcher’s familiarity with existing scholarship, establishing their credibility and expertise in the field. It also helps in building a solid foundation for the new research. 

6. Informing Hypotheses or Research Questions: The literature review guides the formulation of hypotheses or research questions by highlighting relevant findings and areas of uncertainty in existing literature. 

Literature review example

Let’s delve deeper with a literature review example: Let’s say your literature review is about the impact of climate change on biodiversity. You might format your literature review into sections such as the effects of climate change on habitat loss and species extinction, phenological changes, and marine biodiversity. Each section would then summarize and analyze relevant studies in those areas, highlighting key findings and identifying gaps in the research. The review would conclude by emphasizing the need for further research on specific aspects of the relationship between climate change and biodiversity. The following literature review template provides a glimpse into the recommended literature review structure and content, demonstrating how research findings are organized around specific themes within a broader topic. 

Literature Review on Climate Change Impacts on Biodiversity:

Climate change is a global phenomenon with far-reaching consequences, including significant impacts on biodiversity. This literature review synthesizes key findings from various studies: 

a. Habitat Loss and Species Extinction:

Climate change-induced alterations in temperature and precipitation patterns contribute to habitat loss, affecting numerous species (Thomas et al., 2004). The review discusses how these changes increase the risk of extinction, particularly for species with specific habitat requirements. 

b. Range Shifts and Phenological Changes:

Observations of range shifts and changes in the timing of biological events (phenology) are documented in response to changing climatic conditions (Parmesan & Yohe, 2003). These shifts affect ecosystems and may lead to mismatches between species and their resources. 

c. Ocean Acidification and Coral Reefs:

The review explores the impact of climate change on marine biodiversity, emphasizing ocean acidification’s threat to coral reefs (Hoegh-Guldberg et al., 2007). Changes in pH levels negatively affect coral calcification, disrupting the delicate balance of marine ecosystems. 

d. Adaptive Strategies and Conservation Efforts:

Recognizing the urgency of the situation, the literature review discusses various adaptive strategies adopted by species and conservation efforts aimed at mitigating the impacts of climate change on biodiversity (Hannah et al., 2007). It emphasizes the importance of interdisciplinary approaches for effective conservation planning. 

how to do research literature review

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Writing a literature review involves summarizing and synthesizing existing research on a particular topic. A good literature review format should include the following elements. 

Introduction: The introduction sets the stage for your literature review, providing context and introducing the main focus of your review. 

  • Opening Statement: Begin with a general statement about the broader topic and its significance in the field. 
  • Scope and Purpose: Clearly define the scope of your literature review. Explain the specific research question or objective you aim to address. 
  • Organizational Framework: Briefly outline the structure of your literature review, indicating how you will categorize and discuss the existing research. 
  • Significance of the Study: Highlight why your literature review is important and how it contributes to the understanding of the chosen topic. 
  • Thesis Statement: Conclude the introduction with a concise thesis statement that outlines the main argument or perspective you will develop in the body of the literature review. 

Body: The body of the literature review is where you provide a comprehensive analysis of existing literature, grouping studies based on themes, methodologies, or other relevant criteria. 

  • Organize by Theme or Concept: Group studies that share common themes, concepts, or methodologies. Discuss each theme or concept in detail, summarizing key findings and identifying gaps or areas of disagreement. 
  • Critical Analysis: Evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of each study. Discuss the methodologies used, the quality of evidence, and the overall contribution of each work to the understanding of the topic. 
  • Synthesis of Findings: Synthesize the information from different studies to highlight trends, patterns, or areas of consensus in the literature. 
  • Identification of Gaps: Discuss any gaps or limitations in the existing research and explain how your review contributes to filling these gaps. 
  • Transition between Sections: Provide smooth transitions between different themes or concepts to maintain the flow of your literature review. 

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Conclusion: The conclusion of your literature review should summarize the main findings, highlight the contributions of the review, and suggest avenues for future research. 

  • Summary of Key Findings: Recap the main findings from the literature and restate how they contribute to your research question or objective. 
  • Contributions to the Field: Discuss the overall contribution of your literature review to the existing knowledge in the field. 
  • Implications and Applications: Explore the practical implications of the findings and suggest how they might impact future research or practice. 
  • Recommendations for Future Research: Identify areas that require further investigation and propose potential directions for future research in the field. 
  • Final Thoughts: Conclude with a final reflection on the importance of your literature review and its relevance to the broader academic community. 

what is a literature review

Conducting a literature review

Conducting a literature review is an essential step in research that involves reviewing and analyzing existing literature on a specific topic. It’s important to know how to do a literature review effectively, so here are the steps to follow: 1  

Choose a Topic and Define the Research Question:

  • Select a topic that is relevant to your field of study. 
  • Clearly define your research question or objective. Determine what specific aspect of the topic do you want to explore? 

Decide on the Scope of Your Review:

  • Determine the timeframe for your literature review. Are you focusing on recent developments, or do you want a historical overview? 
  • Consider the geographical scope. Is your review global, or are you focusing on a specific region? 
  • Define the inclusion and exclusion criteria. What types of sources will you include? Are there specific types of studies or publications you will exclude? 

Select Databases for Searches:

  • Identify relevant databases for your field. Examples include PubMed, IEEE Xplore, Scopus, Web of Science, and Google Scholar. 
  • Consider searching in library catalogs, institutional repositories, and specialized databases related to your topic. 

Conduct Searches and Keep Track:

  • Develop a systematic search strategy using keywords, Boolean operators (AND, OR, NOT), and other search techniques. 
  • Record and document your search strategy for transparency and replicability. 
  • Keep track of the articles, including publication details, abstracts, and links. Use citation management tools like EndNote, Zotero, or Mendeley to organize your references. 

Review the Literature:

  • Evaluate the relevance and quality of each source. Consider the methodology, sample size, and results of studies. 
  • Organize the literature by themes or key concepts. Identify patterns, trends, and gaps in the existing research. 
  • Summarize key findings and arguments from each source. Compare and contrast different perspectives. 
  • Identify areas where there is a consensus in the literature and where there are conflicting opinions. 
  • Provide critical analysis and synthesis of the literature. What are the strengths and weaknesses of existing research? 

Organize and Write Your Literature Review:

  • Literature review outline should be based on themes, chronological order, or methodological approaches. 
  • Write a clear and coherent narrative that synthesizes the information gathered. 
  • Use proper citations for each source and ensure consistency in your citation style (APA, MLA, Chicago, etc.). 
  • Conclude your literature review by summarizing key findings, identifying gaps, and suggesting areas for future research. 

Whether you’re exploring a new research field or finding new angles to develop an existing topic, sifting through hundreds of papers can take more time than you have to spare. But what if you could find science-backed insights with verified citations in seconds? That’s the power of Paperpal’s new Research feature!  

How to write a literature review faster with Paperpal?

Paperpal, an AI writing assistant, integrates powerful academic search capabilities within its writing platform. With the Research feature, you get 100% factual insights, with citations backed by 250M+ verified research articles, directly within your writing interface with the option to save relevant references in your Citation Library. By eliminating the need to switch tabs to find answers to all your research questions, Paperpal saves time and helps you stay focused on your writing.   

Here’s how to use the Research feature:  

  • Ask a question: Get started with a new document on paperpal.com. Click on the “Research” feature and type your question in plain English. Paperpal will scour over 250 million research articles, including conference papers and preprints, to provide you with accurate insights and citations. 
  • Review and Save: Paperpal summarizes the information, while citing sources and listing relevant reads. You can quickly scan the results to identify relevant references and save these directly to your built-in citations library for later access. 
  • Cite with Confidence: Paperpal makes it easy to incorporate relevant citations and references into your writing, ensuring your arguments are well-supported by credible sources. This translates to a polished, well-researched literature review. 

The literature review sample and detailed advice on writing and conducting a review will help you produce a well-structured report. But remember that a good literature review is an ongoing process, and it may be necessary to revisit and update it as your research progresses. By combining effortless research with an easy citation process, Paperpal Research streamlines the literature review process and empowers you to write faster and with more confidence. Try Paperpal Research now and see for yourself.  

Frequently asked questions

A literature review is a critical and comprehensive analysis of existing literature (published and unpublished works) on a specific topic or research question and provides a synthesis of the current state of knowledge in a particular field. A well-conducted literature review is crucial for researchers to build upon existing knowledge, avoid duplication of efforts, and contribute to the advancement of their field. It also helps researchers situate their work within a broader context and facilitates the development of a sound theoretical and conceptual framework for their studies.

Literature review is a crucial component of research writing, providing a solid background for a research paper’s investigation. The aim is to keep professionals up to date by providing an understanding of ongoing developments within a specific field, including research methods, and experimental techniques used in that field, and present that knowledge in the form of a written report. Also, the depth and breadth of the literature review emphasizes the credibility of the scholar in his or her field.  

Before writing a literature review, it’s essential to undertake several preparatory steps to ensure that your review is well-researched, organized, and focused. This includes choosing a topic of general interest to you and doing exploratory research on that topic, writing an annotated bibliography, and noting major points, especially those that relate to the position you have taken on the topic. 

Literature reviews and academic research papers are essential components of scholarly work but serve different purposes within the academic realm. 3 A literature review aims to provide a foundation for understanding the current state of research on a particular topic, identify gaps or controversies, and lay the groundwork for future research. Therefore, it draws heavily from existing academic sources, including books, journal articles, and other scholarly publications. In contrast, an academic research paper aims to present new knowledge, contribute to the academic discourse, and advance the understanding of a specific research question. Therefore, it involves a mix of existing literature (in the introduction and literature review sections) and original data or findings obtained through research methods. 

Literature reviews are essential components of academic and research papers, and various strategies can be employed to conduct them effectively. If you want to know how to write a literature review for a research paper, here are four common approaches that are often used by researchers.  Chronological Review: This strategy involves organizing the literature based on the chronological order of publication. It helps to trace the development of a topic over time, showing how ideas, theories, and research have evolved.  Thematic Review: Thematic reviews focus on identifying and analyzing themes or topics that cut across different studies. Instead of organizing the literature chronologically, it is grouped by key themes or concepts, allowing for a comprehensive exploration of various aspects of the topic.  Methodological Review: This strategy involves organizing the literature based on the research methods employed in different studies. It helps to highlight the strengths and weaknesses of various methodologies and allows the reader to evaluate the reliability and validity of the research findings.  Theoretical Review: A theoretical review examines the literature based on the theoretical frameworks used in different studies. This approach helps to identify the key theories that have been applied to the topic and assess their contributions to the understanding of the subject.  It’s important to note that these strategies are not mutually exclusive, and a literature review may combine elements of more than one approach. The choice of strategy depends on the research question, the nature of the literature available, and the goals of the review. Additionally, other strategies, such as integrative reviews or systematic reviews, may be employed depending on the specific requirements of the research.

The literature review format can vary depending on the specific publication guidelines. However, there are some common elements and structures that are often followed. Here is a general guideline for the format of a literature review:  Introduction:   Provide an overview of the topic.  Define the scope and purpose of the literature review.  State the research question or objective.  Body:   Organize the literature by themes, concepts, or chronology.  Critically analyze and evaluate each source.  Discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the studies.  Highlight any methodological limitations or biases.  Identify patterns, connections, or contradictions in the existing research.  Conclusion:   Summarize the key points discussed in the literature review.  Highlight the research gap.  Address the research question or objective stated in the introduction.  Highlight the contributions of the review and suggest directions for future research.

Both annotated bibliographies and literature reviews involve the examination of scholarly sources. While annotated bibliographies focus on individual sources with brief annotations, literature reviews provide a more in-depth, integrated, and comprehensive analysis of existing literature on a specific topic. The key differences are as follows: 

 Annotated Bibliography Literature Review 
Purpose List of citations of books, articles, and other sources with a brief description (annotation) of each source. Comprehensive and critical analysis of existing literature on a specific topic. 
Focus Summary and evaluation of each source, including its relevance, methodology, and key findings. Provides an overview of the current state of knowledge on a particular subject and identifies gaps, trends, and patterns in existing literature. 
Structure Each citation is followed by a concise paragraph (annotation) that describes the source’s content, methodology, and its contribution to the topic. The literature review is organized thematically or chronologically and involves a synthesis of the findings from different sources to build a narrative or argument. 
Length Typically 100-200 words Length of literature review ranges from a few pages to several chapters 
Independence Each source is treated separately, with less emphasis on synthesizing the information across sources. The writer synthesizes information from multiple sources to present a cohesive overview of the topic. 

References 

  • Denney, A. S., & Tewksbury, R. (2013). How to write a literature review.  Journal of criminal justice education ,  24 (2), 218-234. 
  • Pan, M. L. (2016).  Preparing literature reviews: Qualitative and quantitative approaches . Taylor & Francis. 
  • Cantero, C. (2019). How to write a literature review.  San José State University Writing Center . 

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Literature Review: Conducting & Writing

  • Steps for Conducting a Lit Review

1. Choose a topic. Define your research question.

2. decide on the scope of your review., 3. select the databases you will use to conduct your searches., 4. conduct your searches and find the literature. keep track of your searches, 5. review the literature..

  • Finding "The Literature"
  • Organizing/Writing
  • APA Style This link opens in a new window
  • Chicago: Notes Bibliography This link opens in a new window
  • MLA Style This link opens in a new window
  • Sample Literature Reviews

Disclaimer!!

Conducting a literature review is usually recursive, meaning that somewhere along the way, you'll find yourself repeating steps out-of-order.

That is actually a good sign.  

Reviewing the research should lead to more research questions and those questions will likely lead you to either revise your initial research question or go back and find more literature related to a more specific aspect of your research question.

Your literature review should be guided by a central research question.  Remember, it is not a collection of loosely related studies in a field but instead represents background and research developments related to a specific research question, interpreted and analyzed by you in a synthesized way.

  • Make sure your research question is not too broad or too narrow.  Is it manageable?
  • Begin writing down terms that are related to your question. These will be useful for searches later.
  • If you have the opportunity, discuss your topic with your professor.

How many studies do you need to look at? How comprehensive should it be? How many years should it cover? 

Tip: This may depend on your assignment.  How many sources does the assignment require?

Make a list of the databases you will search.  Remember to include comprehensive databases such as WorldCat and Dissertations & Theses, if you need to.

Where to find databases:

  • Find Databases by Subject UWF Databases categorized by discipline
  • Find Databases via Research Guides Librarians create research guides for all of the disciplines on campus! Take advantage of their expertise and see what discipline-specific search strategies they recommend!
  • Review the abstracts of research studies carefully. This will save you time.
  • Write down the searches you conduct in each database so that you may duplicate them if you need to later (or avoid dead-end searches   that you'd forgotten you'd already tried).
  • Use the bibliographies and references of research studies you find to locate others.
  • Ask your professor or a scholar in the field if you are missing any key works in the field.
  • Use RefWorks to keep track of your research citations. See the RefWorks Tutorial if you need help.

Some questions to help you analyze the research:

  • What was the research question of the study you are reviewing? What were the authors trying to discover?
  • Was the research funded by a source that could influence the findings?
  • What were the research methodologies? Analyze its literature review, the samples and variables used, the results, and the conclusions. Does the research seem to be complete? Could it have been conducted more soundly? What further questions does it raise?
  • If there are conflicting studies, why do you think that is?
  • How are the authors viewed in the field? Has this study been cited?; if so, how has it been analyzed?

Tips: 

  • Again, review the abstracts carefully.  
  • Keep careful notes so that you may track your thought processes during the research process.
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  • 04 December 2020
  • Correction 09 December 2020

How to write a superb literature review

Andy Tay is a freelance writer based in Singapore.

You can also search for this author in PubMed   Google Scholar

Literature reviews are important resources for scientists. They provide historical context for a field while offering opinions on its future trajectory. Creating them can provide inspiration for one’s own research, as well as some practice in writing. But few scientists are trained in how to write a review — or in what constitutes an excellent one. Even picking the appropriate software to use can be an involved decision (see ‘Tools and techniques’). So Nature asked editors and working scientists with well-cited reviews for their tips.

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doi: https://doi.org/10.1038/d41586-020-03422-x

Interviews have been edited for length and clarity.

Updates & Corrections

Correction 09 December 2020 : An earlier version of the tables in this article included some incorrect details about the programs Zotero, Endnote and Manubot. These have now been corrected.

Hsing, I.-M., Xu, Y. & Zhao, W. Electroanalysis 19 , 755–768 (2007).

Article   Google Scholar  

Ledesma, H. A. et al. Nature Nanotechnol. 14 , 645–657 (2019).

Article   PubMed   Google Scholar  

Brahlek, M., Koirala, N., Bansal, N. & Oh, S. Solid State Commun. 215–216 , 54–62 (2015).

Choi, Y. & Lee, S. Y. Nature Rev. Chem . https://doi.org/10.1038/s41570-020-00221-w (2020).

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Libraries | Research Guides

Literature reviews, what is a literature review, learning more about how to do a literature review.

  • Planning the Review
  • The Research Question
  • Choosing Where to Search
  • Organizing the Review
  • Writing the Review

A literature review is a review and synthesis of existing research on a topic or research question. A literature review is meant to analyze the scholarly literature, make connections across writings and identify strengths, weaknesses, trends, and missing conversations. A literature review should address different aspects of a topic as it relates to your research question. A literature review goes beyond a description or summary of the literature you have read. 

  • Sage Research Methods Core Collection This link opens in a new window SAGE Research Methods supports research at all levels by providing material to guide users through every step of the research process. SAGE Research Methods is the ultimate methods library with more than 1000 books, reference works, journal articles, and instructional videos by world-leading academics from across the social sciences, including the largest collection of qualitative methods books available online from any scholarly publisher. – Publisher

Cover Art

  • Next: Planning the Review >>
  • Last Updated: May 2, 2024 10:39 AM
  • URL: https://libguides.northwestern.edu/literaturereviews
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Literature Review: The What, Why and How-to Guide: Literature Reviews?

  • Literature Reviews?
  • Strategies to Finding Sources
  • Keeping up with Research!
  • Evaluating Sources & Literature Reviews
  • Organizing for Writing
  • Writing Literature Review
  • Other Academic Writings

What is a Literature Review?

So, what is a literature review .

"A literature review is an account of what has been published on a topic by accredited scholars and researchers. In writing the literature review, your purpose is to convey to your reader what knowledge and ideas have been established on a topic, and what their strengths and weaknesses are. As a piece of writing, the literature review must be defined by a guiding concept (e.g., your research objective, the problem or issue you are discussing, or your argumentative thesis). It is not just a descriptive list of the material available or a set of summaries." - Quote from Taylor, D. (n.d)."The Literature Review: A Few Tips on Conducting it".

  • Citation: "The Literature Review: A Few Tips on Conducting it"

What kinds of literature reviews are written?

Each field has a particular way to do reviews for academic research literature. In the social sciences and humanities the most common are:

  • Narrative Reviews: The purpose of this type of review is to describe the current state of the research on a specific research topic and to offer a critical analysis of the literature reviewed. Studies are grouped by research/theoretical categories, and themes and trends, strengths and weaknesses, and gaps are identified. The review ends with a conclusion section that summarizes the findings regarding the state of the research of the specific study, the gaps identify and if applicable, explains how the author's research will address gaps identify in the review and expand the knowledge on the topic reviewed.
  • Book review essays/ Historiographical review essays : A type of literature review typical in History and related fields, e.g., Latin American studies. For example, the Latin American Research Review explains that the purpose of this type of review is to “(1) to familiarize readers with the subject, approach, arguments, and conclusions found in a group of books whose common focus is a historical period; a country or region within Latin America; or a practice, development, or issue of interest to specialists and others; (2) to locate these books within current scholarship, critical methodologies, and approaches; and (3) to probe the relation of these new books to previous work on the subject, especially canonical texts. Unlike individual book reviews, the cluster reviews found in LARR seek to address the state of the field or discipline and not solely the works at issue.” - LARR

What are the Goals of Creating a Literature Review?

  • To develop a theory or evaluate an existing theory
  • To summarize the historical or existing state of a research topic
  • Identify a problem in a field of research 
  • Baumeister, R.F. & Leary, M.R. (1997). "Writing narrative literature reviews," Review of General Psychology , 1(3), 311-320.

When do you need to write a Literature Review?

  • When writing a prospectus or a thesis/dissertation
  • When writing a research paper
  • When writing a grant proposal

In all these cases you need to dedicate a chapter in these works to showcase what has been written about your research topic and to point out how your own research will shed new light into a body of scholarship.

Where I can find examples of Literature Reviews?

Note:  In the humanities, even if they don't use the term "literature review", they may have a dedicated  chapter that reviewed the "critical bibliography" or they incorporated that review in the introduction or first chapter of the dissertation, book, or article.

  • UCSB electronic theses and dissertations In partnership with the Graduate Division, the UC Santa Barbara Library is making available theses and dissertations produced by UCSB students. Currently included in ADRL are theses and dissertations that were originally filed electronically, starting in 2011. In future phases of ADRL, all theses and dissertations created by UCSB students may be digitized and made available.

Where to Find Standalone Literature Reviews

Literature reviews are also written as standalone articles as a way to survey a particular research topic in-depth. This type of literature review looks at a topic from a historical perspective to see how the understanding of the topic has changed over time. 

  • Find e-Journals for Standalone Literature Reviews The best way to get familiar with and to learn how to write literature reviews is by reading them. You can use our Journal Search option to find journals that specialize in publishing literature reviews from major disciplines like anthropology, sociology, etc. Usually these titles are called, "Annual Review of [discipline name] OR [Discipline name] Review. This option works best if you know the title of the publication you are looking for. Below are some examples of these journals! more... less... Journal Search can be found by hovering over the link for Research on the library website.

Social Sciences

  • Annual Review of Anthropology
  • Annual Review of Political Science
  • Annual Review of Sociology
  • Ethnic Studies Review

Hard science and health sciences:

  • Annual Review of Biomedical Data Science
  • Annual Review of Materials Science
  • Systematic Review From journal site: "The journal Systematic Reviews encompasses all aspects of the design, conduct, and reporting of systematic reviews" in the health sciences.
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Literature review

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How to write a literature review in 6 steps

How do you write a good literature review? This step-by-step guide on how to write an excellent literature review covers all aspects of planning and writing literature reviews for academic papers and theses.

Systematic literature review

How to write a systematic literature review [9 steps]

How do you write a systematic literature review? What types of systematic literature reviews exist and where do you use them? Learn everything you need to know about a systematic literature review in this guide

Literature review explained

What is a literature review? [with examples]

Not sure what a literature review is? This guide covers the definition, purpose, and format of a literature review.

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Choosing a Review Type

For guidance related to choosing a review type, see:

  • "What Type of Review is Right for You?" - Decision Tree (PDF) This decision tree, from Cornell University Library, highlights key difference between narrative, systematic, umbrella, scoping and rapid reviews.
  • Reviewing the literature: choosing a review design Noble, H., & Smith, J. (2018). Reviewing the literature: Choosing a review design. Evidence Based Nursing, 21(2), 39–41. https://doi.org/10.1136/eb-2018-102895
  • What synthesis methodology should I use? A review and analysis of approaches to research synthesis Schick-Makaroff, K., MacDonald, M., Plummer, M., Burgess, J., & Neander, W. (2016). What synthesis methodology should I use? A review and analysis of approaches to research synthesis. AIMS Public Health, 3 (1), 172-215. doi:10.3934/publichealth.2016.1.172 More information less... ABSTRACT: Our purpose is to present a comprehensive overview and assessment of the main approaches to research synthesis. We use "research synthesis" as a broad overarching term to describe various approaches to combining, integrating, and synthesizing research findings.
  • Right Review - Decision Support Tool Not sure of the most suitable review method? Answer a few questions and be guided to suitable knowledge synthesis methods. Updated in 2022 and featured in the Journal of Clinical Epidemiology 10.1016/j.jclinepi.2022.03.004

Types of Evidence Synthesis / Literature Reviews

Literature reviews are comprehensive summaries and syntheses of the previous research on a given topic.  While narrative reviews are common across all academic disciplines, reviews that focus on appraising and synthesizing research evidence are increasingly important in the health and social sciences.  

Most evidence synthesis methods use formal and explicit methods to identify, select and combine results from multiple studies, making evidence synthesis a form of meta-research.  

The review purpose, methods used and the results produced vary among different kinds of literature reviews; some of the common types of literature review are detailed below.

Common Types of Literature Reviews 1

Narrative (literature) review.

  • A broad term referring to reviews with a wide scope and non-standardized methodology
  • Search strategies, comprehensiveness of literature search, time range covered and method of synthesis will vary and do not follow an established protocol

Integrative Review

  • A type of literature review based on a systematic, structured literature search
  • Often has a broadly defined purpose or review question
  • Seeks to generate or refine and theory or hypothesis and/or develop a holistic understanding of a topic of interest
  • Relies on diverse sources of data (e.g. empirical, theoretical or methodological literature; qualitative or quantitative studies)

Systematic Review

  • Systematically and transparently collects and categorize existing evidence on a question of scientific, policy or management importance
  • Follows a research protocol that is established a priori
  • Some sub-types of systematic reviews include: SRs of intervention effectiveness, diagnosis, prognosis, etiology, qualitative evidence, economic evidence, and more.
  • Time-intensive and often takes months to a year or more to complete 
  • The most commonly referred to type of evidence synthesis; sometimes confused as a blanket term for other types of reviews

Meta-Analysis

  • Statistical technique for combining the findings from disparate quantitative studies
  • Uses statistical methods to objectively evaluate, synthesize, and summarize results
  • Often conducted as part of a systematic review

Scoping Review

  • Systematically and transparently collects and categorizes existing evidence on a broad question of scientific, policy or management importance
  • Seeks to identify research gaps, identify key concepts and characteristics of the literature and/or examine how research is conducted on a topic of interest
  • Useful when the complexity or heterogeneity of the body of literature does not lend itself to a precise systematic review
  • Useful if authors do not have a single, precise review question
  • May critically evaluate existing evidence, but does not attempt to synthesize the results in the way a systematic review would 
  • May take longer than a systematic review

Rapid Review

  • Applies a systematic review methodology within a time-constrained setting
  • Employs methodological "shortcuts" (e.g., limiting search terms and the scope of the literature search), at the risk of introducing bias
  • Useful for addressing issues requiring quick decisions, such as developing policy recommendations

Umbrella Review

  • Reviews other systematic reviews on a topic
  • Often defines a broader question than is typical of a traditional systematic review
  • Most useful when there are competing interventions to consider

1. Adapted from:

Eldermire, E. (2021, November 15). A guide to evidence synthesis: Types of evidence synthesis. Cornell University LibGuides. https://guides.library.cornell.edu/evidence-synthesis/types

Nolfi, D. (2021, October 6). Integrative Review: Systematic vs. Scoping vs. Integrative. Duquesne University LibGuides. https://guides.library.duq.edu/c.php?g=1055475&p=7725920

Delaney, L. (2021, November 24). Systematic reviews: Other review types. UniSA LibGuides. https://guides.library.unisa.edu.au/SystematicReviews/OtherReviewTypes

Further Reading: Exploring Different Types of Literature Reviews

  • A typology of reviews: An analysis of 14 review types and associated methodologies Grant, M. J., & Booth, A. (2009). A typology of reviews: An analysis of 14 review types and associated methodologies. Health Information and Libraries Journal, 26 (2), 91-108. doi:10.1111/j.1471-1842.2009.00848.x More information less... ABSTRACT: The expansion of evidence-based practice across sectors has lead to an increasing variety of review types. However, the diversity of terminology used means that the full potential of these review types may be lost amongst a confusion of indistinct and misapplied terms. The objective of this study is to provide descriptive insight into the most common types of reviews, with illustrative examples from health and health information domains.
  • Clarifying differences between review designs and methods Gough, D., Thomas, J., & Oliver, S. (2012). Clarifying differences between review designs and methods. Systematic Reviews, 1 , 28. doi:10.1186/2046-4053-1-28 More information less... ABSTRACT: This paper argues that the current proliferation of types of systematic reviews creates challenges for the terminology for describing such reviews....It is therefore proposed that the most useful strategy for the field is to develop terminology for the main dimensions of variation.
  • Are we talking the same paradigm? Considering methodological choices in health education systematic review Gordon, M. (2016). Are we talking the same paradigm? Considering methodological choices in health education systematic review. Medical Teacher, 38 (7), 746-750. doi:10.3109/0142159X.2016.1147536 More information less... ABSTRACT: Key items discussed are the positivist synthesis methods meta-analysis and content analysis to address questions in the form of "whether and what" education is effective. These can be juxtaposed with the constructivist aligned thematic analysis and meta-ethnography to address questions in the form of "why." The concept of the realist review is also considered. It is proposed that authors of such work should describe their research alignment and the link between question, alignment and evidence synthesis method selected.
  • Meeting the review family: Exploring review types and associated information retrieval requirements Sutton, A., Clowes, M., Preston, L., & Booth, A. (2019). Meeting the review family: Exploring review types and associated information retrieval requirements. Health Information & Libraries Journal, 36(3), 202–222. doi: 10.1111/hir.12276

""

Integrative Reviews

"The integrative review method is an approach that allows for the inclusion of diverse methodologies (i.e. experimental and non-experimental research)." (Whittemore & Knafl, 2005, p. 547).

  • The integrative review: Updated methodology Whittemore, R., & Knafl, K. (2005). The integrative review: Updated methodology. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 52 (5), 546–553. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2648.2005.03621.x More information less... ABSTRACT: The aim of this paper is to distinguish the integrative review method from other review methods and to propose methodological strategies specific to the integrative review method to enhance the rigour of the process....An integrative review is a specific review method that summarizes past empirical or theoretical literature to provide a more comprehensive understanding of a particular phenomenon or healthcare problem....Well-done integrative reviews present the state of the science, contribute to theory development, and have direct applicability to practice and policy.

""

  • Conducting integrative reviews: A guide for novice nursing researchers Dhollande, S., Taylor, A., Meyer, S., & Scott, M. (2021). Conducting integrative reviews: A guide for novice nursing researchers. Journal of Research in Nursing, 26(5), 427–438. https://doi.org/10.1177/1744987121997907
  • Rigour in integrative reviews Whittemore, R. (2007). Rigour in integrative reviews. In C. Webb & B. Roe (Eds.), Reviewing Research Evidence for Nursing Practice (pp. 149–156). John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. https://doi.org/10.1002/9780470692127.ch11

Scoping Reviews

Scoping reviews are evidence syntheses that are conducted systematically, but begin with a broader scope of question than traditional systematic reviews, allowing the research to 'map' the relevant literature on a given topic.

  • Scoping studies: Towards a methodological framework Arksey, H., & O'Malley, L. (2005). Scoping studies: Towards a methodological framework. International Journal of Social Research Methodology, 8 (1), 19-32. doi:10.1080/1364557032000119616 More information less... ABSTRACT: We distinguish between different types of scoping studies and indicate where these stand in relation to full systematic reviews. We outline a framework for conducting a scoping study based on our recent experiences of reviewing the literature on services for carers for people with mental health problems.
  • Scoping studies: Advancing the methodology Levac, D., Colquhoun, H., & O'Brien, K. K. (2010). Scoping studies: Advancing the methodology. Implementation Science, 5 (1), 69. doi:10.1186/1748-5908-5-69 More information less... ABSTRACT: We build upon our experiences conducting three scoping studies using the Arksey and O'Malley methodology to propose recommendations that clarify and enhance each stage of the framework.
  • Methodology for JBI scoping reviews Peters, M. D. J., Godfrey, C. M., McInerney, P., Baldini Soares, C., Khalil, H., & Parker, D. (2015). The Joanna Briggs Institute reviewers’ manual: Methodology for JBI scoping reviews [PDF]. Retrieved from The Joanna Briggs Institute website: http://joannabriggs.org/assets/docs/sumari/Reviewers-Manual_Methodology-for-JBI-Scoping-Reviews_2015_v2.pdf More information less... ABSTRACT: Unlike other reviews that address relatively precise questions, such as a systematic review of the effectiveness of a particular intervention based on a precise set of outcomes, scoping reviews can be used to map the key concepts underpinning a research area as well as to clarify working definitions, and/or the conceptual boundaries of a topic. A scoping review may focus on one of these aims or all of them as a set.

Systematic vs. Scoping Reviews: What's the Difference? 

YouTube Video 4 minutes, 45 seconds

Rapid Reviews

Rapid reviews are systematic reviews that are undertaken under a tighter timeframe than traditional systematic reviews. 

  • Evidence summaries: The evolution of a rapid review approach Khangura, S., Konnyu, K., Cushman, R., Grimshaw, J., & Moher, D. (2012). Evidence summaries: The evolution of a rapid review approach. Systematic Reviews, 1 (1), 10. doi:10.1186/2046-4053-1-10 More information less... ABSTRACT: Rapid reviews have emerged as a streamlined approach to synthesizing evidence - typically for informing emergent decisions faced by decision makers in health care settings. Although there is growing use of rapid review "methods," and proliferation of rapid review products, there is a dearth of published literature on rapid review methodology. This paper outlines our experience with rapidly producing, publishing and disseminating evidence summaries in the context of our Knowledge to Action (KTA) research program.
  • What is a rapid review? A methodological exploration of rapid reviews in Health Technology Assessments Harker, J., & Kleijnen, J. (2012). What is a rapid review? A methodological exploration of rapid reviews in Health Technology Assessments. International Journal of Evidence‐Based Healthcare, 10 (4), 397-410. doi:10.1111/j.1744-1609.2012.00290.x More information less... ABSTRACT: In recent years, there has been an emergence of "rapid reviews" within Health Technology Assessments; however, there is no known published guidance or agreed methodology within recognised systematic review or Health Technology Assessment guidelines. In order to answer the research question "What is a rapid review and is methodology consistent in rapid reviews of Health Technology Assessments?", a study was undertaken in a sample of rapid review Health Technology Assessments from the Health Technology Assessment database within the Cochrane Library and other specialised Health Technology Assessment databases to investigate similarities and/or differences in rapid review methodology utilised.
  • Rapid Review Guidebook Dobbins, M. (2017). Rapid review guidebook. Hamilton, ON: National Collaborating Centre for Methods and Tools.
  • NCCMT Summary and Tool for Dobbins' Rapid Review Guidebook National Collaborating Centre for Methods and Tools. (2017). Rapid review guidebook. Hamilton, ON: McMaster University. Retrieved from http://www.nccmt.ca/knowledge-repositories/search/308
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Does your assignment or publication require that you write a literature review? This guide is intended to help you understand what a literature is, why it is worth doing, and some quick tips composing one.

Understanding Literature Reviews

What is a literature review  .

Typically, a literature review is a written discussion that examines publications about  a particular subject area or topic. Depending on disciplines, publications, or authors a literature review may be: 

A summary of sources An organized presentation of sources A synthesis or interpretation of sources An evaluative analysis of sources

A Literature Review may be part of a process or a product. It may be:

A part of your research process A part of your final research publication An independent publication

Why do a literature review?

The Literature Review will place your research in context. It will help you and your readers:  

Locate patterns, relationships, connections, agreements, disagreements, & gaps in understanding Identify methodological and theoretical foundations Identify landmark and exemplary works Situate your voice in a broader conversation with other writers, thinkers, and scholars

The Literature Review will aid your research process. It will help you to:

Establish your knowledge Understand what has been said Define your questions Establish a relevant methodology Refine your voice Situate your voice in the conversation

What does a literature review look like?

The Literature Review structure and organization may include sections such as:  

An introduction or overview A body or organizational sub-divisions A conclusion or an explanation of significance

The body of a literature review may be organized in several ways, including:

Chronologically: organized by date of publication Methodologically: organized by type of research method used Thematically: organized by concept, trend, or theme Ideologically: organized by belief, ideology, or school of thought

Mountain Top By Alice Noir for the Noun Project

  • Find a focus
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Literature Review

  • Steps for Conducting a Lit Review
  • Finding "The Literature"
  • Organizing/Writing
  • Sample Literature Reviews
  • FAMU Writing Center

1. Choose a topic. Define your research question.

Your literature review should be guided by a central research question.  Remember, it is not a collection of loosely related studies in a field but instead represents background and research developments related to a specific research question, interpreted and analyzed by you in a synthesized way.

  • Make sure your research question is not too broad or too narrow.  Is it manageable?
  • Begin writing down terms that are related to your question. These will be useful for searches later.
  • If you have the opportunity, discuss your topic with your professor.

2. Decide on the scope of your review.

How many studies do you need to look at? How comprehensive should it be? How many years should it cover? 

Tip: This may depend on your assignment.  How many sources does the assignment require?

3. Select the databases you will use to conduct your searches.

Make a list of the databases you will search. 

  • Look at the Library's research guides in your discipline to select discipline-specific databases.  Don't forget to look at books!
  • Make an appointment with or contact your   subject librarian to make sure you aren't missing major databases.

4. Conduct your searches and find the literature. Keep track of your searches!

Tips: 

  • Review the abstracts of research studies carefully. This will save you time.
  • Write down the searches you conduct in each database so that you may duplicate them if you need to later (or avoid dead-end searches   that you'd forgotten you'd already tried).
  • Use the bibliographies and references of research studies you find to locate others.
  • Ask your professor or a scholar in the field if you are missing any key works in the field.
  • Use RefWorks to keep track of your research citations. See the RefWorks Tutorial if you need help.

5. Review the literature.

Some questions to help you analyze the research:

  • What was the research question of the study you are reviewing? What were the authors trying to discover?
  • Was the research funded by a source that could influence the findings?
  • What were the research methodologies? Analyze its literature review, the samples and variables used, the results, and the conclusions. Does the research seem to be complete? Could it have been conducted more soundly? What further questions does it raise?
  • If there are conflicting studies, why do you think that is?
  • How are the authors viewed in the field? Has this study been cited?; if so, how has it been analyzed?
  • Again, review the abstracts carefully.  
  • Keep careful notes so that you may track your thought processes during the research process.

Composing your literature review

O nce you've settled on a general pattern of organization, you're ready to write each section. There are a few guidelines you should follow during the writing stage. Here is a sample paragraph from a literature review about sexism and language to illuminate the following discussion:

  However, other studies have shown that even gender-neutral antecedents are more likely to produce masculine images than feminine ones (Gastil, 1990). Hamilton (1988) asked students to complete sentences that required them to fill in pronouns that agreed with gender-neutral antecedents such as "writer," "pedestrian," and "persons." The students were asked to describe any image they had when writing the sentence. Hamilton found that people imagined 3.3 men to each woman in the masculine "generic" condition and 1.5 men per woman in the unbiased condition. Thus, while ambient sexism accounted for some of the masculine bias, sexist language amplified the effect. (Source: Erika Falk and Jordan Mills, "Why Sexist Language Affects Persuasion: The Role of Homophily, Intended Audience, and Offense," Women and Language19:2.

Use evidence

In the example above, the writers refer to several other sources when making their point. A literature review in this sense is just like any other academic research paper. Your interpretation of the available sources must be backed up with evidence to show that what you are saying is valid.

Be selective

Select only the most important points in each source to highlight in the review. The type of information you choose to mention should relate directly to the review's focus, whether it is thematic, methodological, or chronological.

Use quotes sparingly

Falk and Mills do not use any direct quotes. That is because the survey nature of the literature review does not allow for in-depth discussion or detailed quotes from the text. Some short quotes here and there are okay, though if you want to emphasize a point, or if what the author said just cannot be rewritten in your own words. Notice that Falk and Mills do quote certain terms that were coined by the author, not common knowledge, or taken directly from the study. But if you find yourself wanting to put in more quotes, check with your instructor.

Summarize and synthesize

Remember to summarize and synthesize your sources within each paragraph as well as throughout the review. The authors here recapitulate important features of Hamilton's study, but then synthesize it by rephrasing the study's significance and relating it to their own work.

Keep your own voice

While the literature review presents others' ideas, your voice (the writer's) should remain front and center. Notice that Falk and Mills weave references to other sources into their own text, but they still maintain their own voice by starting and ending the paragraph with their own ideas and their own words. The sources support what Falk and Mills are saying.

Use caution when paraphrasing

When paraphrasing a source that is not your own, be sure to represent the author's information or opinions accurately and in your own words. In the preceding example, Falk and Mills either directly refer in the text to the author of their source, such as Hamilton, or they provide ample notation in the text when the ideas they are mentioning are not their own, for example, Gastil's. For more information, please see our handout on plagiarism .

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How To Do Secondary Research or a Literature Review

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What Is a Literature Review?

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A literature review ("lit review" for short) is a specific type of secondary research used mainly in academic or scholarly settings. It consists of a compilation of the relevant scholarly materials (not popular materials such as news articles or general websites) on your subject, which you then read, synthesize, and cite as needed within your assignment, paper, thesis, or dissertation. See the chart below for the types of sources that are typically included in a lit review. For a systematic literature review, widely used in the sciences or engineering, see additional tips on the Systematic Literature Review tab.

Exclude from literature review

This guide provides step-by-step instructions detailing one strategy for completing a literature review. Librarians can also help you with the lit review process. Contact your subject librarian to make a research appointment.

*If any suggestions on this guide conflict with specific assignment instructions, follow your instructor's (or adviser's) instructions.

Below are some examples of lit reviews from journal articles.

  • Bayesian study of relativisit open an dhidden charm in anisotropic lattice QCD The literature review is embedded in the introduction, found on pages 1-2 (before the Methods section).
  • Neuroticism modulates brain visuo‐vestibular and anxiety systems during a virtual rollercoaster task This Psychology-style literature review is found within the introduction, on pages 716-717.

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How to Do a Systematic Review: A Best Practice Guide for Conducting and Reporting Narrative Reviews, Meta-Analyses, and Meta-Syntheses

Affiliations.

  • 1 Behavioural Science Centre, Stirling Management School, University of Stirling, Stirling FK9 4LA, United Kingdom; email: [email protected].
  • 2 Department of Psychological and Behavioural Science, London School of Economics and Political Science, London WC2A 2AE, United Kingdom.
  • 3 Department of Statistics, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois 60208, USA; email: [email protected].
  • PMID: 30089228
  • DOI: 10.1146/annurev-psych-010418-102803

Systematic reviews are characterized by a methodical and replicable methodology and presentation. They involve a comprehensive search to locate all relevant published and unpublished work on a subject; a systematic integration of search results; and a critique of the extent, nature, and quality of evidence in relation to a particular research question. The best reviews synthesize studies to draw broad theoretical conclusions about what a literature means, linking theory to evidence and evidence to theory. This guide describes how to plan, conduct, organize, and present a systematic review of quantitative (meta-analysis) or qualitative (narrative review, meta-synthesis) information. We outline core standards and principles and describe commonly encountered problems. Although this guide targets psychological scientists, its high level of abstraction makes it potentially relevant to any subject area or discipline. We argue that systematic reviews are a key methodology for clarifying whether and how research findings replicate and for explaining possible inconsistencies, and we call for researchers to conduct systematic reviews to help elucidate whether there is a replication crisis.

Keywords: evidence; guide; meta-analysis; meta-synthesis; narrative; systematic review; theory.

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Reviewing literature for research: Doing it the right way

Shital amin poojary.

Department of Dermatology, K J Somaiya Medical College, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India

Jimish Deepak Bagadia

In an era of information overload, it is important to know how to obtain the required information and also to ensure that it is reliable information. Hence, it is essential to understand how to perform a systematic literature search. This article focuses on reliable literature sources and how to make optimum use of these in dermatology and venereology.

INTRODUCTION

A thorough review of literature is not only essential for selecting research topics, but also enables the right applicability of a research project. Most importantly, a good literature search is the cornerstone of practice of evidence based medicine. Today, everything is available at the click of a mouse or at the tip of the fingertips (or the stylus). Google is often the Go-To search website, the supposed answer to all questions in the universe. However, the deluge of information available comes with its own set of problems; how much of it is actually reliable information? How much are the search results that the search string threw up actually relevant? Did we actually find what we were looking for? Lack of a systematic approach can lead to a literature review ending up as a time-consuming and at times frustrating process. Hence, whether it is for research projects, theses/dissertations, case studies/reports or mere wish to obtain information; knowing where to look, and more importantly, how to look, is of prime importance today.

Literature search

Fink has defined research literature review as a “systematic, explicit and reproducible method for identifying, evaluating, and synthesizing the existing body of completed and recorded work produced by researchers, scholars and practitioners.”[ 1 ]

Review of research literature can be summarized into a seven step process: (i) Selecting research questions/purpose of the literature review (ii) Selecting your sources (iii) Choosing search terms (iv) Running your search (v) Applying practical screening criteria (vi) Applying methodological screening criteria/quality appraisal (vii) Synthesizing the results.[ 1 ]

This article will primarily concentrate on refining techniques of literature search.

Sources for literature search are enumerated in Table 1 .

Sources for literature search

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PubMed is currently the most widely used among these as it contains over 23 million citations for biomedical literature and has been made available free by National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), U.S. National Library of Medicine. However, the availability of free full text articles depends on the sources. Use of options such as advanced search, medical subject headings (MeSH) terms, free full text, PubMed tutorials, and single citation matcher makes the database extremely user-friendly [ Figure 1 ]. It can also be accessed on the go through mobiles using “PubMed Mobile.” One can also create own account in NCBI to save searches and to use certain PubMed tools.

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PubMed home page showing location of different tools which can be used for an efficient literature search

Tips for efficient use of PubMed search:[ 2 , 3 , 4 ]

Use of field and Boolean operators

When one searches using key words, all articles containing the words show up, many of which may not be related to the topic. Hence, the use of operators while searching makes the search more specific and less cumbersome. Operators are of two types: Field operators and Boolean operators, the latter enabling us to combine more than one concept, thereby making the search highly accurate. A few key operators that can be used in PubMed are shown in Tables ​ Tables2 2 and ​ and3 3 and illustrated in Figures ​ Figures2 2 and ​ and3 3 .

Field operators used in PubMed search

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Boolean operators used in PubMed search

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PubMed search results page showing articles on donovanosis using the field operator [TIAB]; it shows all articles which have the keyword “donovanosis” in either title or abstract of the article

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PubMed search using Boolean operators ‘AND’, ‘NOT’; To search for articles on treatment of lepra reaction other than steroids, after clicking the option ‘Advanced search’ on the home page, one can build the search using ‘AND’ option for treatment and ‘NOT’ option for steroids to omit articles on steroid treatment in lepra reaction

Use of medical subject headings terms

These are very specific and standardized terms used by indexers to describe every article in PubMed and are added to the record of every article. A search using MeSH will show all articles about the topic (or keywords), but will not show articles only containing these keywords (these articles may be about an entirely different topic, but still may contain your keywords in another context in any part of the article). This will make your search more specific. Within the topic, specific subheadings can be added to the search builder to refine your search [ Figure 4 ]. For example, MeSH terms for treatment are therapy and therapeutics.

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PubMed search using medical subject headings (MeSH) terms for management of gonorrhea. Click on MeSH database ( Figure 1 ) →In the MeSH search box type gonorrhea and click search. Under the MeSH term gonorrhea, there will be a list of subheadings; therapy, prevention and control, click the relevant check boxes and add to search builder →Click on search →All articles on therapy, prevention and control of gonorrhea will be displayed. Below the subheadings, there are two options: (1) Restrict to medical subject headings (MeSH) major topic and (2) do not include MeSH terms found below this term in the MeSH hierarchy. These can be used to further refine the search results so that only articles which are majorly about treatment of gonorrhea will be displayed

Two additional options can be used to further refine MeSH searches. These are located below the subheadings for a MeSH term: (1) Restrict to MeSH major topic; checking this box will retrieve articles which are majorly about the search term and are therefore, more focused and (2) Do not include MeSH terms found below this term in the MeSH hierarchy. This option will again give you more focused articles as it excludes the lower specific terms [ Figure 4 ].

Similar feature is available with Cochrane library (also called MeSH), EMBASE (known as EMTREE) and PsycINFO (Thesaurus of Psychological Index Terms).

Saving your searches

Any search that one has performed can be saved by using the ‘Send to’ option and can be saved as a simple word file [ Figure 5 ]. Alternatively, the ‘Save Search’ button (just below the search box) can be used. However, it is essential to set up an NCBI account and log in to NCBI for this. One can even choose to have E-mail updates of new articles in the topic of interest.

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Saving PubMed searches. A simple option is to click on the dropdown box next to ‘Send to’ option and then choose among the options. It can be saved as a text or word file by choosing ‘File’ option. Another option is the “Save search” option below the search box but this will require logging into your National Center for Biotechnology Information account. This however allows you to set up alerts for E-mail updates for new articles

Single citation matcher

This is another important tool that helps to find the genuine original source of a particular research work (when few details are known about the title/author/publication date/place/journal) and cite the reference in the most correct manner [ Figure 6 ].

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Single citation matcher: Click on “Single citation matcher” on PubMed Home page. Type available details of the required reference in the boxes to get the required citation

Full text articles

In any search clicking on the link “free full text” (if present) gives you free access to the article. In some instances, though the published article may not be available free, the author manuscript may be available free of charge. Furthermore, PubMed Central articles are available free of charge.

Managing filters

Filters can be used to refine a search according to type of article required or subjects of research. One can specify the type of article required such as clinical trial, reviews, free full text; these options are available on a typical search results page. Further specialized filters are available under “manage filters:” e.g., articles confined to certain age groups (properties option), “Links” to other databases, article specific to particular journals, etc. However, one needs to have an NCBI account and log in to access this option [ Figure 7 ].

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Managing filters. Simple filters are available on the ‘search results’ page. One can choose type of article, e.g., clinical trial, reviews etc. Further options are available in the “Manage filters” option, but this requires logging into National Center for Biotechnology Information account

The Cochrane library

Although reviews are available in PubMed, for systematic reviews and meta-analysis, Cochrane library is a much better resource. The Cochrane library is a collection of full length systematic reviews, which can be accessed for free in India, thanks to Indian Council of Medical Research renewing the license up to 2016, benefitting users all over India. It is immensely helpful in finding detailed high quality research work done in a particular field/topic [ Figure 8 ].

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Cochrane library is a useful resource for reliable, systematic reviews. One can choose the type of reviews required, including trials

An important tool that must be used while searching for research work is screening. Screening helps to improve the accuracy of search results. It is of two types: (1) Practical: To identify a broad range of potentially useful studies. Examples: Date of publication (last 5 years only; gives you most recent updates), participants or subjects (humans above 18 years), publication language (English only) (2) methodological: To identify best available studies (for example, excluding studies not involving control group or studies with only randomized control trials).

Selecting the right quality of literature is the key to successful research literature review. The quality can be estimated by what is known as “The Evidence Pyramid.” The level of evidence of references obtained from the aforementioned search tools are depicted in Figure 9 . Systematic reviews obtained from Cochrane library constitute level 1 evidence.

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Evidence pyramid: Depicting the level of evidence of references obtained from the aforementioned search tools

Thus, a systematic literature review can help not only in setting up the basis of a good research with optimal use of available information, but also in practice of evidence-based medicine.

Source of Support: Nil.

Conflict of Interest: None declared.

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MLA research proposal format: a guide to essentials

Understanding MLA research proposal format: a comprehensive guide

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A historian and political analyst by training, Jay Brines offers six years of experience in academic writing. His in-depth understanding of political theories and historical contexts brings a rich perspective to his papers, making them a valuable resource for students in these fields. You can always count on this paper writer.

How to write a research paper MLA format? It's a common question among students and researchers who are preparing papers in the humanities. A research paper proposal outlines the objective, scope, and direction of your academic endeavor. Academic proposals are essential because they allow researchers to explain their study's purpose and request comments or financing. Formatting this text in MLA style follows humanities field standards and makes it organized and readable. This introduction to MLA style paper will explain why writing guidelines are essential for academic achievement and how they help you write a clear, professional, and convincing MLA research proposal format.

Coherent and well-structured proposals are crucial. They prepare the basis for the study and provide a clear path for it, ensuring all project issues are examined and adequately expressed. When drafting such proposals, it's beneficial to understand "What is MLA format?" as this style guide can help organize your documentation and citations effectively, ensuring clarity and consistency throughout the academic writing process. Using the right proposal structure helps you communicate your work's research significance and persuade others to do the study. This introductory section emphasizes the importance of MLA proposal formatting in academic writing and research preparation before diving into the details.

Mastering the essentials of MLA style for crafting research proposals

Modern Language Association (MLA) style is popular in language and literary writing. It's essential to familiarize yourself with the specific guidelines that govern this style. Understanding MLA rules helps research proposals sound professional and scholarly. MLA style paper format organizes proposals, making research aims obvious to reviewers and researchers. MLA proposal format, citations, and organization are crucial for academic legitimacy. The style basics will be covered in this part to help you write a solid MLA research proposal.

The crucial role of following MLA guidelines in writing

Following MLA formatting basics while writing an academic paper is essential to scholarly communication. These standards organize material simply and consistently, making the text easier to read. Researchers should follow MLA formatting principles to guarantee that their work is regarded seriously and evaluated on its merits rather than formatting problems.

Understanding and using MLA style paper format in a study proposal helps generate a professional tone and structure, which is crucial to convincing review panels of its viability and need. It shows attention to detail and adherence to "academic writing" norms, which are appreciated in scholarship. This section will explain MLA style paper format and how to use it to write a research proposal, covering citation styles and formatting a research paper.

Developing a compelling title and abstract

The title page for research proposal writings generally makes the initial impression. A brief title summarizes your study and engages readers. It should be concise, informative, and reflect your idea. Meanwhile, the abstract, much like you might find in a research proposal sample MLA format, condenses your study goals, methods, and consequences. Well-written abstracts instantly convey the scope and relevance of your study, inspiring additional investigation. Title and abstract efficiency can greatly affect study publicity and accessibility.

Crafting a compelling abstract: a quick guide for 100-200 words

Any study project needs an abstract writing to summarize its aims, methodologies, and implications. Effective abstract tips include beginning with a clear problem or purpose, a quick summary of the research methodology used, and a picture of the expected outcomes.

This section of the proposal frequently decides the reader's interest in reading the whole thing. It is the first substantive description of your work viewed by an external scholar, and a well-written abstract may greatly improve its reception. Thus, abstract writing is essential for researchers who want their proposal to stand out. Writing services can help you learn how to start a paper effectively, ensuring your abstract catches the reader's attention immediately. Moreover, services such as write my paper for me can provide guidance on structuring and refining your abstract, making it a powerful introduction to your proposal.

Strategies and insights for crafting engaging titles and abstracts

The title of your MLA research proposal format sets the tone and identifies the subject. A short, detailed, and informative title structure should convey the study's substance and entice the reader to learn more. A strong title quickly tells the reader about the study topic, which is vital in academic writing that prioritizes clarity and accuracy.

To write a good title and abstract, be clear when reading the research proposal example MLA and avoid unclear terminology. Additionally, connecting the title and abstract with the primary research challenges and approaches helps give a comprehensive preview of the proposal's content and persuasively argues for the research's necessity and relevance.

Organizing your research proposal: a strategic approach

Effectively communicating your research proposal sample MLA strategy requires a well-structured research proposal. This section helps you organize your proposal to include all important elements. Your study topic, technique, and projected results should flow together to make a cohesive paper. A logical MLA proposal format helps your proposal flow and emphasizes the importance and viability of your research idea.

Blueprint for organizing your proposal with defined sections

A well-organized proposal organization is crucial to a clear document. A well-organized proposal helps the reviewer identify crucial material and evaluate the study's feasibility and relevance. The parts should be organized from topic introduction to research methodology approaches, expected results implications, and conclusions.

The introduction proposal example, literature review, methodology, expected outcomes, and conclusion should be clearly divided. Each part should explain the research's goals, importance, and methodology and add to the proposal's narrative. This systematic technique helps deliver material effectively and shows the researcher's extensive planning and comprehension of the academic project's needs.

Guidelines for numbering and formatting subsections to enhance clarity and coherence

Effective structuring extends to the detailed organization of your content. Numbering and MLA formatting sub-sections enhance the readability and navigability of your proposal. Here are key practices to consider:

  • Consistent sub-section headings: Use uniform styles for headings and subheadings to maintain a coherent MLA structure.
  • Sequential numbering: Number sections and sub-sections in a sequential manner to guide the reader through your proposal.
  • Logical flow: Arrange sections in a logical order, starting with the introduction proposal example and proceeding through methods, results, and conclusions.
  • Visual distinction: Make use of bold or italicized fonts sparingly to emphasize important points without distracting from the main text.

Crafting the introduction and conducting the literature review

The beginning of your MLA research proposal example should set the stage for your investigation. It presents the study issue, emphasizes its relevance, and specifies your research goals. You must demonstrate your understanding of existing research and its relevance to your subject in the literature review after the introduction. This part places your research in the existing scholarly conversation and highlights gaps your study seeks to fill.

Advice for crafting a powerful introduction to frame your research

Introduction writing in a research proposal sample MLA includes background information, the research topic, and study goals. A good beginning sets the stage for the subject, engages the reader, and persuades them that it is important. The study scope and desired contributions to knowledge must be clearly defined.

A good introduction should flow into a Literature review that critically evaluates pertinent research. Literature review guidelines recommend that this part show a deep awareness of the academic environment around the research issue and identify gaps that the present study will fill.

Best practices for performing a literature review in MLA-style research proposals

When conducting a literature review for an MLA research proposal, consider the following MLA guidelines for essay projects:

  • Relevant sources: Focus on recent and pertinent literature to support your research context.
  • Citation consistency: Adhere strictly to MLA citation guidelines to maintain uniformity and avoid plagiarism.
  • Critical analysis: Evaluate and synthesize the literature; don't just summarize. Highlight debates, major themes, and gaps in the research.
  • Integration with proposal: Clearly link the literature review to your research questions and objectives, demonstrating its direct relevance.

Formulating the research methodology and anticipating outcomes

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A conclusion of your MLA research proposal is a conclusion summary of the article's main elements. This section revisits key topics like the structured approach to proposal development, MLA formatting, and strategic considerations for each section — from writing an impactful title to writing a clear and concise abstract. The conclusion summarizes these essential elements to help the reader comprehend the MLA structure and substance.

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  • Open access
  • Published: 26 June 2024

iPSCs chondrogenic differentiation for personalized regenerative medicine: a literature review

  • Eltahir Abdelrazig Mohamed Ali 1 , 2   na1 ,
  • Rana Smaida 3   na1 ,
  • Morgane Meyer 2 , 3   na1 ,
  • Wenxin Ou 2 , 6 , 7   na1 ,
  • Zongjin Li 4 ,
  • Zhongchao Han 5 ,
  • Nadia Benkirane-Jessel 1 , 2 , 3 ,
  • Jacques Eric Gottenberg 2 , 6 &
  • Guoqiang Hua   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0001-7639-5908 1 , 2  

Stem Cell Research & Therapy volume  15 , Article number:  185 ( 2024 ) Cite this article

213 Accesses

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Cartilage, an important connective tissue, provides structural support to other body tissues, and serves as a cushion against impacts throughout the body. Found at the end of the bones, cartilage decreases friction and averts bone-on-bone contact during joint movement. Therefore, defects of cartilage can result from natural wear and tear, or from traumatic events, such as injuries or sudden changes in direction during sports activities. Overtime, these cartilage defects which do not always produce immediate symptoms, could lead to severe clinical pathologies. The emergence of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) has revolutionized the field of regenerative medicine, providing a promising platform for generating various cell types for therapeutic applications. Thus, chondrocytes differentiated from iPSCs become a promising avenue for non-invasive clinical interventions for cartilage injuries and diseases. In this review, we aim to highlight the current strategies used for in vitro chondrogenic differentiation of iPSCs and to explore their multifaceted applications in disease modeling, drug screening, and personalized regenerative medicine. Achieving abundant functional iPSC-derived chondrocytes requires optimization of culture conditions, incorporating specific growth factors, and precise temporal control. Continual improvements in differentiation methods and integration of emerging genome editing, organoids, and 3D bioprinting technologies will enhance the translational applications of iPSC-derived chondrocytes. Finally, to unlock the benefits for patients suffering from cartilage diseases through iPSCs-derived technologies in chondrogenesis, automatic cell therapy manufacturing systems will not only reduce human intervention and ensure sterile processes within isolator-like platforms to minimize contamination risks, but also provide customized production processes with enhanced scalability and efficiency.

Graphical abstract

how to do research literature review

Cartilage is a semi-rigid, load-bearing, avascular connective tissue, formed solely by cells known as chondrocytes. These cells are loosely embedded in an extracellular matrix (ECM) composed predominantly of collagens and, in some cases, elastic fibers, hyaluronan and proteoglycans [ 1 ]. Cartilage formation, also known as chondrogenesis, is a dynamic cellular process of a condensed mesenchyme tissue derived from the mesoderm germ layer during embryogenesis. Cartilage represents the fetal precursor tissue for skeletal development. In adults, it persists at almost all joints between bones and in structures that must be deformable as well as strong such as in the respiratory system. Based on the structure and composition of their ECMs, chondrocytes form three different types of cartilage; namely, hyaline cartilage, fibrocartilage and elastic cartilage [ 2 ].

Cartilage exhibits diverse clinical aspects and relevance to various medical disciplines, including orthopedics, rheumatology, and respiratory medicine. Cartilage defects are associated with various clinical conditions such as osteoarthritis (OA), rheumatoid arthritis, and cartilage dysplasias [ 1 ]. Understanding the clinical significance of cartilage is critical for the development of effective therapeutics and interventions in various healthcare settings. Orthopedic surgeries such as joint arthroplasty and cartilage transplantation are the most commonly used therapeutic interventions for cartilage repair or replacement [ 3 ]. However, these surgical interventions are invasive or minimally invasive, and their ability to restore normal joint function, alleviate pain, and improve the quality of life for individuals with cartilage-related issues is limited.

Therefore, it is crucial to develop other non-invasive therapeutic approaches with high safety and efficacy. Theoretically and due to their ability to repair injured tissues, adult stem cells can be a good source for developing therapies for a large number of diseases [ 4 ]. Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) which can be derived from various tissues such as bone marrow, adipose tissu, placenta, umbilical cord blood, and multiple dental tissues, are multipotent cells that have the potential to differentiate into the mesenchymal lineages including osteocytes, chondrocytes, and adipocytes, as well as other non-mesenchymal lineages, such as cardiomyocytes, astrocytes, neural cells, and endothelial cells [ 5 , 6 ]. Therefore, extensive efforts have been spent to develop MSCs-based cell therapies for a broad spectrum of diseases, encompassing cartilage and bone diseases, hematological diseases, inflammatory diseases, and graft-versus-host disease [ 7 ]. It is important to note that different transcription factors regulate the differentiation of MSCs to different lineages. Chondrogenic differentiation is determined by members the SOX (sex determining region Y (SRY)-related HMG-box) family of transcription factors SOX9, SOX5, and SOX6 while regulation of osteoblast differentiation involve the transcription factors runt-related transcription factor 2 (RUNX2), osterix, and β-catenin [ 8 , 9 ]. Among the different sources of MSCs, bone marrow-derived MSCs (BM-MSCs) are the most commonly used MSCs in regenerative medicine, particularly for cartilage and bone regeneration [ 10 ]. Although significant strides have been taken to improve the chondrogenic differentiation from BM-MSCs and other cell sources, several obstacles persist complicating the achievement of consistent and effective chondrocytes required for clinical application [ 11 ]. Several factors may lead to the failure of utilizing BM-MSCs for efficient treatment of cartilage diseases including but not limited to the restricted proliferation capabilities in cultures [ 12 ], donor variations, and immunogenicity triggered during culture and cryopreservation [ 13 ].

These challenges could be addressed by the induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) technology. iPSCs are pluripoent cells which have the capacity for self-renewal and differentiation into almost all cell types [ 14 ]. The concept of self-renewal is the ability of the cells to undergo infinite cell divisions without differentiation into other cell types, while pluripotency is the ability of the cells to produce specialized cells of the three embryonic layers: ectoderm, mesoderm, and endoderm [ 15 ]. iPSCs can be generated from any type of cells through non-integrating reprogramming method using specific transcription factors known as Yamanaka factors namely, Octamer binding transcription factor 3/4 (OCT3/4), SOX2, Krüppel-like factor 4 (KLF4), and Cellular-Myelocytomatosis c-MYC [ 15 ]. Simplicity and reproducibility are the attractive features of the iPSC technology and have attracted the biomedical scientists to generate and differentiate iPSCs from numerous normal and disease-specific cell types for disease modeling and drug screening applications [ 16 ]. Syngeneic non-integrated iPSCs and their derivatives have no or minimal immunogenic effect supporting the notion that these cells could be used for cellular therapy without causing harmful immune responses [ 17 ]. Therefore, generation of iPSC-derived chondrocytes has become indispensable to advance our understanding of the mechanisms of cartilage-related disorders and represents an important avenue in regenerative medicine. In the following section, we will summarize different strategies developed to differentiate iPSCs into chondrocytes aiming to recapitulate the in vivo microenvironment that support chondrogenesis, and to generate functional and stable iPSC-derived chondrocytes.

Generation of iPSC-derived chondrocytes

Chondrocytes can be differentiated from iPSCs though different intermediate stages, such as iPSC-derived MSCs (iPSC-MSCs), embryoid bodies (EBs) formation, induction of neural crest cells (NCCs), and primitive streak-mesendoderm and mesodermal lineage. iPSC-MSCs are morphologically highly similar to BM-MSCs and their gene expression profiling is also comparable to that of BM-MSCs [ 18 ], and exhibit traits that encompass features of both iPSCs and MSCs. iPSC-MSCs show reduced immunogenicity as compared to iPSCs [ 19 ], which renders them appropriate for allogeneic transplantation and enables development of off-the-shelf therapies. Moreover, patient-specific iPSC-MSCs open up the potential for developing personalized medicine for autologous transplantation, in vitro disease modeling, and drug screening [ 20 ]. These iPSC-MSCs were reported to differentiate into chondrocytes with growth factors, such as transforming growth factor-beta 3 (TGF-β3) (Fig.  1 A). Another commonly used approach to obtain chondrocytes from iPSCs in vitro is through formation of three-dimensional (3D) aggregates of pluripotent stem cells (PSCs) known as embryoid bodies (EBs) (Fig.  1 B). The EB has the capacity to generate ectodermal, mesodermal and endodermal cells due to its initiation of a process that resembles gastrulation-like events in embryonic development [ 21 ]. Several protocols have been developed under this category with slight variations in the number and concentration of growth factors used, the number of days required and whether an additional step such as differentiation of EBs to MSCs or paraxial mesoderm cells, is needed to differentiate iPSCs to chondrocytes [ 22 ]. NCCs are a multipotent group of transient embryonic cells in the vertebrate. They are derived from the ectoderm and differentiate to the peripheral nervous system cells and several non-neural cell types including pigment cells, and the cranio-facial cartilage and bones [ 23 ]. Taking the advantage of being multipotent, chondrogenic cells could be differentiated from the NCC-derived MSCs [ 24 ] (Fig.  1 C). Chondrocytes were also reported to be differentiated from human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) through primitive streak or mesendoderm to mesoderm [ 25 ]. Cheng et al. followed this method to differentiate iPSCs to chondrocyte in three short stages using different combination of growth factors in each stage [ 26 ] (Fig.  1 D). iPSCs can also be differentiated to chondrocytes by co-culture with primary chondrocytes (Fig.  1 D). This method is based on the fact that the primary chondrocytes secret paracrine factors which may induce chondrogenic differentiation of the stem cells by closely mimicking the in vivo tissue microenvironment for chondrogenesis [ 27 ]. Moreover, co-culture permits crosstalk between the stem cells and the primary chondrocytes influencing chondrocyte development. It facilitates physical contact between different cell types which stabilizes the cellular phenotype and allows for communication of molecular signals involved in chondrogenic differentiation [ 28 ].

figure 1

Schematic representation of the current strategies for in vitro differentiation of iPSCs to chondrocytes. A Via iPSC-derived MSCs. B Via EBs formation. C Via induction of NCCs. D Via primitive streak-mesendoderm and mesodermal lineage. E Via co-culture with primary chondrocytes. BMP4: bone morphogenetic protein 4; BMP7: bone morphogenetic protein 7; CHIR99021: glycogen synthase kinase 3 (GSK-3) inhibitor; DM: dorsomorphin; EB: embryoid body; EGF: epidermal growth factor; FGF2: fibroblast growth factor 2; GDF5: growth/differentiation factor-5; hESC: human embryonic stem cell; iPSC: induced pluripotent stem cell; MSC: mesenchymal stem cell; NCC: neural crest cell; NT4: neurotrophin-4; PDGF: platelet-derived growth factor; PSC: pluripotent stem cell; SB431542: transforming growth factor-beta receptor inhibitor; TGF-β3: transforming growth factor-beta 3; Wnt3a: Wingless/Int1 family member 3A

The above-mentioned studies showed that cartilage cells differentiated from human iPSCs represent a promising tool for regenerative medicine to treat cartilage-related diseases, however some challenges remain. The variability in the quality and characteristics of different iPSC lines affects the efficiency and consistency of chondrogenic differentiation [ 29 ]. Since the suspension culture promotes the chondrogenic differentiation and enables removal of non-chondrocytic cells, Yamashita and colleagues reported that homogenous chondrogenic nodules derived from iPSCs cultivated in suspension culture has the potential to form scaffold-free hyaline cartilage in animal models [ 30 ]. How to generate homogenous cartilage cells without formation of hypertrophic chondrocytes which have the potential to trigger the process of initiating endochondral ossification in vivo remains the main challenge. Moreover, iPSCs have the potential to form teratomas, therefore it is crucial to ensure complete elimination of undifferentiated iPSCs from chondrogenic cultures to prevent teratoma formation upon transplantation [ 31 ]. Obtaining fully mature chondrocytes from iPSCs with a phenotype comparable to native chondrocytes, is challenging [ 32 ]. In addition, undesired development of chondrogenic hypertrophy and fibrocartilage in vitro may require modification of the growth factors cocktail used [ 33 ]. Due to bovine xenoproteins, use of fetal bovine serum (FBS) in cell culture may induce adverse response in transplant patient upon injection of MSCs [ 34 ]. Additionally, there is a risk of infection because of viral and prion contamination [ 35 ]. Interestingly, MSC induction in xeno-free conditions may tackle these problems and promote the safety and efficiency of iPSC-MSCs for clinical applications [ 36 ].

Genome-edited iPSC-derived chondrocytes

In the last decade, the clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR-Cas9) approach has become an efficient and indispensable tool in biomedical research, and has been extensively explored in bone and cartilage research [ 37 , 38 ]. It has been used to edit genes associated with chondrogenic differentiation to enhance their expression [ 39 ] or to modify signaling pathways involved in chondrogenesis [ 40 ]. For example, chondrogenesis can be regulated by the expression of SOX9 and Stat3 [ 39 ]. Chondrogenic differentiation of MSCs can be promoted by knocking down the RUNX2 , a key transcription factor associated with osteoblast differentiation [ 41 ]. Genomic editing in iPSC-derived chondrocytes has been also reported in disease modeling. Efficient editing of cartilage related genes enables to investigate in depth the mechanisms underlying cartilage disorders and to identify potential therapeutic agents [ 42 ]. An interesting genome editing study showed simultaneous SOX9 activation and peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma (PPAR-γ) repression in rat BM-MSCs, which promoted chondrocytes differentiation and regeneration of calvarial bone [ 43 ]. Various studies have investigated diverse targets for regeneration, paving the way for potential clinical trials in the near future. Genome editing has been employed to boost the regenerative potential of chondrocytes. This may involve editing genes related to ECM production, cell proliferation, or resistance to hypertrophy [ 41 , 44 , 45 ]. Although numerous studies have been reported on the application of genome-edited chondrocytes for in vivo cartilage repair, drug screening, and disease modeling [ 39 , 41 , 43 ], relatively few studies have been conducted specifically on iPSC-derived chondrocytes [ 40 , 46 , 47 ]. It was revealed that mutations in TRPV4 disrupted the bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) signaling pathway in iPSC-derived chondrocytes and blocked formation of hypertrophic chondrocytes providing potential targets for drug development for TRPV4-associated skeletal dysplasias [ 48 ]. The existing methods for chondrogenic differentiation from iPSCs may generate heterogeneous cell populations. To resolve this problem, a collagen, type II, alpha 1- green fluorescent protein (COL2A1-GFP) knock-in reporter allele generated by CRISPR-Cas9 system was used to purify the cells. The purified chondroprogenitors exhibited enhanced chondrogenic potential in comparison to unselected groups [ 40 ].

Transplantation of allogeneic human iPSC-derived cartilage have shown to be more effective than allogeneic BM-MSC-derived cartilage [ 49 ]. However, these cartilage cells can trigger immunological reactions [ 50 ]. To overcome this issue, it is necessary to reduce the immunological reactions. The β2 microglobulin, a component of MHC class I molecules, was knocked down in monkey iPSCs before their differentiation into chondrocytes. As expected, the allogeneic iPSC-derived cartilage transplanted in osteochondral defects in monkey knee joints showed increased proliferation of natural killer cells and leukocytes surrounding the knocked down PSC-derived cartilage. This indicates the intricate processes in the immune response of the transplanted allogeneic cartilage in osteochondral defects in vivo [ 47 ]. These studies highlight the tremendous advantages of the CRISPR-Cas9 system in understanding the pathogenesis, identification of promising drug targets, and development of feasible treatment interventions for cartilage diseases.

Cartilage organoids formed and differentiated from iPSCs

iPSC-derived cartilage organoids are 3D cell clusters that are created by differentiation of iPSCs in vitro. To support formation of cartilage organoids and their ability to self-renewal and self-organization, a number of biocompatible materials are used, such as Matrigel and synthetic hydrogels [ 51 ]. Cartilage organoid technology has been developed to facilitate drug screening through identification of important signaling pathways, recapitulate joint developmental events during embryogenesis and cartilage regeneration. Li and colleagues showed that long-term culturing of hiPSC-derived multi-tissue organoids (MTOs) in E8 medium results in a spontaneous emergence of hyaline cartilage tissues. Moreover, a transcriptome analysis indicated a strong association between the expression of chondrogenic markers in MTOs and fetal lower limb chondrocytes [ 52 ]. Another intriguing research demonstrated that subcutaneous implantation of iPSC-derived cartilage microtissues combined with pre-hypertrophic cartilage organoids in nude mice results in formation of both cartilaginous and bony regions [ 53 ]. Similarly, O’Connor and colleagues established osteochondral organoids using murine iPSCs through time-dependent sequential exposure of TGF-β3 and BMP2, to mimic natural bone development through the process of endochondral ossification. The generated organoids showed dual tissues consisting of cartilaginous and calcified bony regions [ 54 ]. A recent study showed a sequential differentiation process to produce matrix-rich cartilage spheroids from iPSC-MSCs by inducing NCCs in xeno-free environments. Efficient chondrogenic differentiation was induced by a thienoindazole derivative, TD-198946, a small molecule used to enhance differentiation of various human progenitor cells to chondrocytes. No hypertrophy, fibrotic cartilage formation, or dedifferentiation detected in vivo in the generated cartilage spheroids. These chondrogenic spheroids can serve as building blocks for biofabrication of engineered cartilage tissues, as they have the ability to fuse within a short timeframe of a few days [ 24 ]. It is worth mentioning that iPSC-derived cartilage organoids have also been reported to recruit osteogenic precursors for bone repair [ 55 ]. A recent study has revealed that allogeneic iPSC-derived cartilage organoids transplanted in the knee joints of a primate model of chondral defects integrated with articular cartilage of the host and prevented further degeneration of the surrounding cartilage [ 49 ]. These findings open new horizons for development of complex tissue engineered implants to promote zone-specific functionality by using pre-differentiated organoids as building blocks to establish articular cartilage grafts. Even though the research on iPSC-derived cartilage organoids is still in its infancy and creating fully functional cartilage organoids is still challenging, it is evident that they have demonstrated promising applications in drug screening, disease modeling, regeneration, and repair. It is of note that application of 3D bioprinting technology in development of iPSC-derived cartilage organoids can create more complex cartilage organoids and heighten their structural organization [ 56 ].

Therapeutic applications of iPSC-derived chondrocytes

Advanced disease modeling.

iPSC-derived chondrocytes have been utilized to recapitulate cartilage injuries and diseases in vitro (Table  1 ). The pluripotency and unlimited self-renewal capacity of the iPSCs make these cells vitally important for disease modeling, which permit us to investigate the mechanisms of various diseases, screen for potential treatment targets, and test therapeutic agents [ 57 ]. iPSC-derived disease models for both monogenic and complex cartilage diseases have been developed with more focus on single gene cartilage disorders [ 58 ]. Saitta et al. established an iPSC-based in vitro model of skeletal dysplasia to investigate the initial stages of abnormal cartilage formation. Mutations in the calcium channel gene TRPV4 lead to abnormal chondrogenesis during cartilage growth plate differentiation [ 59 ]. Isogenic iPSCs with wild-type or mutant NLRP3 have been generated from patients with neonatal-onset multisystem inflammatory disease. Both in vitro and in vivo chondrogenic differentiation were performed. Furthermore, immunodeficient mice that received mutant cartilaginous pellets in vivo experienced disordered endochondral ossification [ 60 ]. In vitro models of familial osteochondritis dissecans (FOCD) was developed using both patient BM-MSCs and iPSCs derived from patient fibroblasts to delineate the pathogenesis of this disease. The results showed that chondrogenic pellets with a high glycosaminoglycan (GAG) content but a poor structural integrity. Moreover, dysregulation of matrix production and assembly was evident. These findings show that how studying FOCD iPSC-derived chondrocytes can reveal insights into disease phenotype and pathogenesis offering a new in vitro model of OA and cartilage degeneration [ 61 ]. Esseltine et al. [ 62 ] converted fibroblasts from patient with oculodentodigital dysplasia (ODDD) into iPSCs, which provided a useful model for investigation of this disease. In this study, the iPSCs showed mutated Cx43 gene, decreased levels of Cx43 mRNA and protein, resulting in impaired channel function. Furthermore, the subcellular localization of Cx43 changed during the chondrogenic differentiation of ODDD-derived iPSCs. This altered localization may have contributed to the more compact cartilage pellet morphology observed in differentiated ODDD-derived iPSCs. Additionally, other research teams successfully developed iPSC-derived disease models for other genetic and complex multifactorial skeletal disorders including type II collagenopathy , fibrodysplasia ossificans progressive (FOP), OA, hand OA, and early-onset finger OA (efOA) [ 58 ]. Recently, a novel method was introduced to direct iPSC-derived sclerotome through a sequential transformation in a 3D pellet culture. The generated chondroprogenitors can further be differentiated into articular chondrocytes or, alternatively, transformed into hypertrophic chondrocytes capable of transitioning into osteoblasts. Moreover, distinctive gene expression signatures have been identified at critical developmental stages, highlighting the effectiveness of this system in modeling genetic disorders affecting cartilage and bone [ 63 ]. In general, these studies demonstrated that normal chondrogenesis can be recapitulated using an iPSC-derived model, and disease-specific iPSCs exhibit molecular evidence of aberrant chondrogenic developmental processes. These findings may be utilized to develop therapeutic strategies for cartilage-related disorders.

To overcome some limitations of scaffold-based 3D cell culture method, scaffold-free methods showed promising results as well. Nakumora et al. [ 64 ] reported efficient fabrication of unified, self-sufficient, and functional cartilaginous constructs by combining iPSCs and bio-3D printers using a Kenzan needle array technology. This approach may facilitate repairing of articular cartilage defects . Zhang et al. [ 65 ] established a rapid and efficient approach, employing a 3D rotary suspension culture system, to directly guide iPSC differentiation toward the chondrogenic mesoderm lineage. Subsequently, the research group introduced a tetracycline-controlled BMP4 gene regulation system for iPSCs, linking transcriptional activation of BMP4 with heightened chondrogenesis using the piggyBac (PB) transposon-based gene delivery system. Kotaka and associates used magnetically-labeled iPSCs and an external magnetic force to evaluate the safety and efficacy of magnetic field-mediated delivery of iPSCs for articular cartilage repair in nude rats. The results demonstrated the effectiveness and safety of this approach for in vivo cartilage repair [ 66 ] .

Drug screening

Surgical interventions are performed to prevent progressing of focal articular cartilage defects [ 29 ], however, no effective drugs are available for treatment of cartilage regeneration. Using human MSCs for screening of compounds that promote chondrogenesis has limitations due to limited expansion of MSC passages, variations between donors and the high cost [ 67 ]. The development of the iPSC technology and advancement in genome editing approaches provide crucial tools for drug screening by establishing iPSC-derived chondrocytes. Using human iPSCs, a 96-well screening platform was developed to identify chondrogenesis-inducing agents that can be used separately or combined with other techniques for cartilage regeneration and repair. Due to their ability to promote chondrogenesis in vitro and in vivo, AB235 and NB61, two chimeric ligands of Activin/BMP2, were used and tested separately at two different doses for validation of the 96-well chondrogenic screening format. Strikingly, elevated concentrations of each of these two agents resulted in improved chondrogenic differentiation [ 68 ]. Another OA drug screening study was conducted on iPSC-derived or native mouse cartilage samples. The inflammatory environment of OA was induced in these cells by interleukin-1α (IL-1α), and a 96-well plate format was used for screening of OA drug candidates. The high-throughput screening revealed that the nuclear factor kappa-light-chain-enhancer of activated B cells (NF-κB) inhibitor SC514 was the most effective drug candidate to reduce cartilage loss induced by IL-1α [ 69 ]. Increased mineralization in the FOP-derived iPSCs has been detected, a phenomenon that could be mitigated by the use of the BMP inhibitor DMH1 [ 70 ]. It has been demonstrated that statins could effectively rectify the degraded cartilage observed in both chondrogenically differentiated thanatophoric dysplasia type 1 (TD1)- and achondroplasia (ACH)-specific iPSCs [ 71 ]. These studies illustrate the potential of iPSCs to provide a suitable platform to identify novel therapeutic agents for cartilage-related disorders and facilitate development of personalized regenerative medicine.

Preclinical studies

Chondrocytes derived from iPSCs have demonstrated great promise in a variety of regenerative medicine applications, especially in relation to cartilage regeneration and repair [ 49 , 64 , 72 ]. These cells offer regenerative treatments for diseases such as OA and cartilage injuries (Table  1 ). They can be combined with biomaterial scaffolds or scaffold-free methods to create engineered cartilage grafts for transplantation [ 73 ]. Generation of cartilage tissues from patient-specific iPSCs reduces the risk of immunological rejection, thus this personalized strategy has a potential for treating diseases such as OA [ 19 ]. Before their clinical application, preclinical studies of the iPSC-derived chondrocytes are crucial to assess their viability, functionality, and safety [ 74 ]. iPSC-MSCs were used to repair cartilage defects in a rabbit model. Macroscopic and histological assessment revealed more cartilage repair in the experimental group as compared to both the control and scaffold implantation group. Furthermore, no teratoma formation detected in all the three groups indicating the safety and potential of iPSC-MSCs for cartilage regeneration [ 75 ]. Ko et al. [ 76 ] implanted iPSC-derived chondrocytes in osteochondral defects in immunosuppressed rats. The defects exhibited a significantly higher quality of cartilage repair than in the control. In another study, homogenous cartilaginous particles derived from chondrocyte-specific reporter hiPSC lines were transplanted into joint surface defects in immunodeficient rat and immunosuppressed mini-pig models. The neocartilage survived and integrated into native cartilage, and no tumor formation was observed in all the animal models following the transplantation [ 30 ]. The potential of MSC-based therapies is attributed to the release of trophic factors via paracrine signaling, with small extracellular vesicles (sEVs) potentially playing a significant role [ 77 ]. Zhu et al. [ 78 ] investigated the therapeutic efficacy of exosomes derived from synovial membrane MSCs (SM-MSC-Exos) and iPSC-MSCs (iPSC-MSC-Exos) in treatment of OA. The injected exosomes in an OA mouse model showed that iPSC-MSC-Exos exhibit a stronger therapeutic impact on OA compared to SM-MSC-Exos. Similarly, iPSC-MSC-derived sEVs injected in degenerative discs of intervertebral disc degeneration (IVDD) rat models revealed significant improvement in IVDD and senescence of nucleus pulposus cells of the IVD [ 79 ]. Given the poliferative capacity of autologous iPSC-MSCs, these cells ensure a consistent and abundant source of therapeutic sEVs, which could introduce a new therapeutic strategy for OA and IVDD treatment [ 78 , 79 ]. As previousely mentioned, Nejadnik et al. developed an effective method to directly differentiate human iPSCs (hiPSCs) into MSCs and chondrocytes without the need for EBs formation. Transplantation of these cells in OA rat models successfully repaired the osteochondral defects [ 33 ]. However, the traces of fibrocartilage and hypertrophic cartilage detected in the generated chondrocytes in vitro and use of FBS in the chondrogenic medium may prevent their clinical application. Use of Xeno-free media and thorough characterization of hiPSC-derived MSCs and chondrocytes will be essential prior to transplantation [ 33 ]. An intriguing study has demonestrated that chondrogenic spheroids derived from iPSC-MSCs retain cartilage phenotype in vivo comparable to the chondrogenic-like tissues generated from the same cell spheroids in vitro. In contrast to spheroids obtained from iPSC-MSCs, distinct bone-like tissue formation was evident in BM-MSC spheroids. This may prove the capacity of iPSC-MSC-derived chondrogenic spheroids to form cartilage-like tissues without endochondral ossification for treatment of cartilage defects in vivo [ 24 ]. Additionally, due to the ability of chondrogenic spheroids to fuse rapidly within a short timeframe, they can serve as as building blocks for constructing larger cartilage tissues using techniques like the Kenzan bioprinting method [ 56 ]. Current focus tends to shift towards investigating immune reactions in the context of allogeneic cartilage transplantation. Abe and colleagues were the first to conduct allogeneic cartilage transplantation into a primate model using major histocompatibility complex (MHC)-mismatched iPSC-derived cartilage organoids without the need for immunosuppressive drugs [ 49 ]. Remarkably, the transplanted organoids exhibited successful engraftment into chondral defects on the knee joint surface of the primate model, demonstrating survival, integration, and remodeling similar to native cartilage, without any observed immune reactions [ 49 ]. The findings of these preclinical studies demonstrate effective and clinically translatable approaches for regenerating cartilage tissue using hiPSC-derived MSCs and chondrocytes, offering potential enhancements in cartilage regeneration outcomes in cartilage diseases.

Clinical studies

Over the past decade, iPSCs have shown significant advancements, offering new prospects for personalized cell therapy. Patient-derived iPSCs exhibit a lower risk of rejection compared to allogeneic iPSCs. Therefore, some challenges such as tumorigenicity or immunogenicity must be addressed before the iPSCs can be extensively utilized in clinical therapy. To date, 89 clinical trials referenced under “induced pluripotent stem cells” have been registered on the World Health Organization (WHO)-managed main databases ( https://clinicaltrials.gov/ , International Clinical Trials Registry Platform (ICTRP), https://trialsearch.who.int/ ). Several studies from the Japan Primary Registries Network ( https://rctportal.niph.go.jp/en ) can be added to the list since most of their 21 iPSCs trials are not cross-referenced with the WHO’s platforms. Among the total 110 identified clinical trials, 51 trials were registered as interventional and the remaining as observational. Despite the low rejection risk, slow shifting from autologous to allogenic iPSC-derived therapy approach has been crucial due to the time and cost required for characterization and safety testing of each cell line. Furthermore, allogeneic iPSCs approach allow more time for the testing process, and once an approved cell line is established, it can be used to treat multiple patients. Opting for allogeneic cell therapy would result in a readily accessible therapeutic product for interventions [ 80 ].

Until recently, pluripotent cell-derived MSCs were not a popular focus in clinical research, with only a small number of studies exploring this area, despite the wide variety of potential tissues that could be produced. Currently, only three clinical trials involving ESC-derived MSCs [ 81 , 82 , 83 ], and six iPSC-MSCs clinical trials have been reported (Table  2 ) [ 84 , 85 ]. It is important to note that from the six clinical trials, cartilage regeneration through iPSC-MSCs was only addressed in two studies. In 2020, the University of Sydney and Cynata Therapeutics conducted phase 1 clinical trial to evaluate the safety, efficacy, and cost-effectiveness of an allogenic MSCs therapy (Cymerus MSCs) for tibiofemoral knee OA [ 86 ]. Lately, Cynata Therapeutics has reported that 321 subjects were recruited for the phase 3 SCUlpTOR clinical trial which will start in 2024 for 24 months (Trial ID: ACTRN12620000870954). In the foreseeable future, the phase 1 clinical trial sponsored by the Chinese Nuwacell Biotechnology company will investigate the safety and efficacy of the NCR100 allogenic iPSC-MSCs intra-articular injection for treatment of knee OA (Trial ID: NCT06049342). This is the first Chinese iPSC-derived cell product approved to be used in phase 1 clinical trial following six years of research and development, ( https://en.nuwacell.com/news ). It is to be noted that a study tried to directly differentiate allogenic iPSCs into chondrocytes without intermediate MSCs differentiation, to treat knee OA as well (Trial ID: jRCTa050190104). The 2020 Japanese interventional trial from Kyoto University was followed by a second observational trial in 2020 for post-treatment evaluation on the subject’s knees (Trial ID: jRCT1050220051).

As a concluding remark, there have been no results regarding cartilage regeneration through iPSC-derived cell therapy in these trials so far. The scarcity of iPSC-MSCs and cartilage-oriented clinical trials indicates significant potential for further advancement and enhancement. Hopefully with the extensively growing iPSCs research, cartilage regeneration for condition such as OA will receive greater attention.

Limitations of iPSC-derived chondrocyte in vitro models

Throughout this review, numerous studies have demonstrated the tremendous advantages offered by iPSC-derived chondrocytes for cartilage research. However, there are some limitations associated with iPSC-derived chondrocyte in vitro models. The first limitation is that the iPSC-derived chondrocytes may show an immature phenotype, and it is still challenging to obtain iPSC-derived chondrocytes with full maturation and stability [ 87 ]. The second limitation is the possibility to generate diverse cell populations with variation in maturation stages. This heterogeneity might complicate result interpretation and compromise the validity and reproducibility of experimental results [ 22 ]. Due to the potential of iPSCs to form teratomas, residual undifferentiated iPSCs in iPSC-derived cartilage grafts may pose a risk of tumor formation in transplantation studies [ 88 ]. Another main challenge is the variability in the efficiency of chondrogenic differentiation among different iPSC lines and even among clones of the same line [ 31 ]. Moreover, the culture conditions for differentiation of iPSCs to chondrocytes may not fully replicate the complex microenvironment of native cartilage tissue. The artificial culture conditions can influence cellular behavior and might not fully capture the in vivo physiological and mechanical complexity of chondrocytes [ 18 , 24 ]. Even though patient-derived iPSCs can potentially reduce the immunological rejection [ 89 ], the in vitro differentiation and manipulation processes may introduce foreign antigens, raising concerns about the immunogenicity of the generated chondrocytes [ 19 ]. In addition, the ability of iPSC-derived chondrocytes to produce a mature and robust ECM may be limited. The structure and organization of the ECM are essential for the functionality and integrity of cartilage tissue. Therefore, ECM defects may affect the utility of in vitro models [ 90 ]. Last, but not the least, the robustness of cartilage in vitro models may be affected by the technical aspects of iPSC maintenance, differentiation, and characterization, which may introduce variability [ 32 ]. These limitations illuminate the challenges associated with iPSC-derived chondrocyte in vitro models. Improvement and optimization of chondrogenic differentiation protocols may overcome these limitations and ensure reliable and comparable results across various studies.

Scaling-up of iPSC-derived cells

The potential of iPSC-derived technologies in chondrogenesis, offering significant benefits for OA and other medical conditions, is evident. However, unlocking these benefits encounters hurdles such as limited process understanding, outdated manufacturing techniques, and insufficient automation. Manual manufacturing and quality control processes prove labor-intensive and error prone. To address the anticipated demand for iPSC-derived cells, scalable production methods must be developed to uphold clinical-grade yields and immunomodulatory properties. Moreover, research indicates that human iPSCs might present an epigenetic edge compared to adult stem cells in producing chondrocytes on a large scale without a tendency towards hypertrophy. Ko and his team showcased heightened expression of key chondrogenic markers such as SOX9, COL2A1, and aggrecan (ACAN), alongside decreased levels of hypertrophic markers like COL10A1 and RUNX2 in iPSC-derived chondrocytes when compared to BM-MSC pellets [ 76 ].

It is crucial to establish robust protocols for large-scale iPSC production to support tasks like cell banking. Thorough evaluations of iPSC-derived chondrocytes in large-scale production settings are essential for consistent quality outcomes and to tackle the challenge of spontaneous differentiation. Closing the gap between research and clinical application necessitates the development of scaled production technologies spanning from initial seeding to final fill-and-finish stages. Embracing full automation in iPSCs cell therapy manufacturing and quality control is paramount for enhancing both product quality and production efficiency in this rapidly evolving field [ 91 ]. A recent study developed hiPSC-derived limb bud mesenchymal cells (ExpLBM cells) with strong chondrogenic potential and stable proliferation. Using a stirred bioreactor, this method outperformed conventional culture plate methods by yielding significant cartilage tissue with just 1 × 10 6 cells. This produced significant amounts of cartilaginous particles, suggesting a scalable method for cartilage regeneration without immune rejection. This efficient approach requires minimal cell quantities and offers potential scalability through adjustments in medium volume and cell numbers [ 92 ]. Another recent study has introduced GelMA microcarriers developed via step emulsification microfluidic devices as a degradable platform for amplifying iPSC-MSCs in scalable bioreactors, while maintaining typical MSC traits and immune-modulatory capabilities. These GelMA microcarriers, manufactured with efficiency and reproducibility in mind, facilitate substantial expansion of iPSC-MSCs (up to 16 times within 8 days) in vertical wheel bioreactors, with a post-digestion viability exceeding 95%. When compared to monolayer culture, iPSC-MSCs expanded on GelMA microcarriers exhibit at least similar, if not superior, immune-modulatory potential. This approach marks a notable progression in producing immune-modulatory iPSC-MSCs, providing scalability, cost-efficiency, and simplified cell retrieval through direct dissolution of microcarriers, thereby minimizing cell wastage [ 93 ].

A novel, good manufacturing practice (GMP)-compliant scalable manufacturing procedure is introduced for the fabrication of iPSC-MSCs, tackling the aforementioned hurdles. By employing xenogeneic-, serum-, and feeder-free conditions, alongside chemically defined maintenance for iPSCs, the process eliminates the necessity for murine feeders and accomplishes mesoderm induction, resulting in heightened performance of MSCs in immunopotency assessments. The manufacturing process comprises three phases: iPSC banking, iPSC expansion and differentiation into MSCs, and MSC expansion and formulation of the final clinical product. Impressively, one vial of iPSCs can yield an average of 3.2 × 10 10 MSCs, and the complete iPSC bank has the potential to generate 2.9 × 10 15 MSCs, equating to 29 million clinical doses, each containing 1 × 10 8 MSCs. This method presents a promising resolution to the challenges of supply, scalability, and consistency in iPSC-MSC production, paving the way for their utilization in clinical applications with heightened efficacy and safety. This optimized manufacturing process for iPSC-MSCs has been applied in treating steroid-resistant acute graft versus host disease (SR-aGvHD) in a phase 1 clinical trial but could be similarly employed in the iPSC-MSCs-Chondrocyte approach for chondrogenesis [ 84 ].

The aim of automating cell therapy manufacturing is to reduce human intervention, ensuring sterile processes within isolator-like platforms to minimize contamination risks. Despite notable advancements, challenges persist, including difficulties in executing specific biological procedures with robotic assistance, prompting the need for exploring new solutions and standardization. Establishing an automated manufacturing platform requires precise definition of process parameters and configurations through validated standard operating procedures (SOPs). To address these needs, an advanced automated cell manufacturing platform was employed to produce both equine and human iPSC-MSCs via EBs [ 94 ]. These iPSC-MSCs were further demonstrated their ability to differentiate into adipogenic, osteogenic, and chondrogenic lineages proficiently. The main goal of this study was to develop a simplified and uniform procedure for isolating MSCs from peripheral blood under GMP conditions, ensuring their viability and purity. Compared to existing protocols documented in the literature, this approach offers simplicity, scalability and consistently delivering robust cell purity [ 94 ]. Recently, another automatic system was reported to produce iPSC-derived therapies, covering a range of cell types including iPSC-MSCs, iPSC-derived chondrocytes, and extracellular vesicles [ 95 ]. iPSC expansion and differentiation into MSCs and chondrocytes take place in plates, while expansion of iPSC-derived MSCs and production of extracellular vesicles utilize microcarriers within stirred tank bioreactors. The system is designed to oversee iPSC expansion, differentiation, and the fill and finish of the products. Furthermore, this platform including a range of quality control assays such as microscopy, cell counting, viability assessment, qPCR, and endotoxin assays, aims to address these challenges by establishing an automated platform for producing cell therapies specifically targeting OA, and serves as an example of how existing automation technology can be customized and improved to enhance scalability and efficiency.

Conclusions

Genomic abnormalities detected during the reprogramming and subsequent expansion of iPSCs raised serious safety concerns [ 96 ]. Therefore, several factors including starting cell source, method of delivery, reprogramming factor and cell passage, should be taken into consideration for the generation of iPSCs in order to reduce not only genomic instability [ 97 ], but also immunogenicity [ 98 , 99 ].

The field of iPSC-derived cartilages is rapidly evolving, and several approaches and perspectives have been explored to tackle limitations and enhance the potential applications of these cells in regenerative medicine. Development of new or optimization of the current differentiation protocols to improve the maturation and stability of iPSC-derived chondrocytes is critical [ 25 ]. This can be achieved by further research on signaling pathways, culture conditions, and other factors that facilitate the maturation of iPSC-derived chondrocytes. It is significantly important to implement cutting-edge 3D culture systems combined with ink-free bioprinting technique to more closely mimic the in vivo microenvironment of cartilage tissue [ 56 ]. Using bioreactors, biomimetic scaffolds, 3D bioprinting and other advanced technologies can improve the functional characteristics of iPSC-derived chondrocytes for cartilage repair. Generation of heterogeneous cell populations remains one of the major challenges in development of efficient cartilage grafts [ 100 ]. To eliminate undesired cells and promote the homogeneity of iPSC-derived chondrocyte populations, sustained development of precise genome editing tools is quite essential. Moreover, it is necessary to identify the sources of heterogeneity in iPSC-derived chondrocyte populations to reduce variability and improve reproducibility [ 101 ]. Tumorigenicity associated with residual undifferentiated iPSCs can be addressed by advancements in purification methods and genetic modifications to increase the safety of iPSC-derived chondrocytes for clinical applications [ 102 ]. Moreover, scalability and cost-effectiveness of the methods used for generation of iPSC-derived chondrocytes should be improved by simplifying the differentiation protocols, optimizing culture conditions, and utilizing automation technologies [ 95 ]. Additionally, it is very crucial to enhance the development of in vivo models to investigate the safety and efficacy of iPSC-derived chondrocytes in preclinical studies [ 103 ]. Successful preclinical studies should be followed by well-designed clinical trials in patients with cartilage-related disorders. Furthermore, for personalized regenerative medicine, the design of preclinical and clinical trials should focus on the integration of patient-specific iPSCs with advanced gene editing technologies and highly efficient chondrogenic differentiation protocols. These future perspectives reflect the continuous endeavors to harness the full potential of iPSC-derived chondrocytes, opening the door for innovative approaches in cartilage regeneration and repair. Since this field is advancing rapidly, interdisciplinary collaborations and advancement in technologies will play a vital role in shaping the future of iPSC-based cartilage regeneration research.

Abbreviations

Two dimentional

Three dimentional

Achondroplasia

Bone marrow-derived Mesenchymal stem cells

Bone morphogenetic protein 2

Bone morphogenetic protein 4

Umbilical cord blood mononuclear cell

Cellular-Myelocytomatosis

Collagen, type II, alpha 1

Collagen, type II, alpha 1-green fluorescent protein

Clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats

Dorsomorphin homolog 1

Embryoid bodies

Extracellular matrix

Early-onset finger osteoarthritis

Fibrodysplasia ossficans progressive

Good manufacturing practice

Human embryonic stem cells

Human induced pluripotent stem cells

Hand osteoarthritis

Identification number

  • Induced pluripotent stem cells

Intervertebral disc degeneration

Krüppel-like factor 4

Knee osteoarthritis

Metaphyseal chondrodysplasia type Schmid

Multiple epiphyseal dysplasia

Mesenchymal stem cell

Not applicable

Neural crest cells

Kappa-light-chain-enhancer of activated B cells

Normal human epidermal keratinocytes

  • Osteoarthritis

Octamer binding transcription factor 3/4

Peripheral blood mononuclear cells

Pluripotent stem cells

Runt-related transcription factor 2

Small extracellular vesicles

Standard operating procedures

SRY-related high mobility group box

Sex determining region Y

Thanatophoric dysplasia type 1

Transforming growth factor-beta 3

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Acknowledgements

We thank the support of Institut national de la santé et de la recherche médicale (INSERM), Faculté de médecine et Faculté de chirurgie dentaire de Université de Strasbourg, and Lamina therapeutics. EAMA is financially supported by ANR ARTiTHERA, WO was supported by Chinese Scholarship Council (CSC N° 202309240005). We also thank Servier Medical ART for free medical images.

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Eltahir Abdelrazig Mohamed Ali, Rana Smaida, Morgane Meyer and Wenxin Ou have contributed equally to this work.

Authors and Affiliations

Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale (INSERM), UMR 1260, Regenerative NanoMedicine (RNM), 1 Rue Eugène Boeckel, 67000, Strasbourg, France

Eltahir Abdelrazig Mohamed Ali, Nadia Benkirane-Jessel & Guoqiang Hua

Université de Strasbourg, 67000, Strasbourg, France

Eltahir Abdelrazig Mohamed Ali, Morgane Meyer, Wenxin Ou, Nadia Benkirane-Jessel, Jacques Eric Gottenberg & Guoqiang Hua

Lamina Therapeutics, 1 Rue Eugène Boeckel, 67000, Strasbourg, France

Rana Smaida, Morgane Meyer & Nadia Benkirane-Jessel

Nankai University School of Medicine, Tianjin, 300071, China

Beijing Engineering Laboratory of Perinatal Stem Cells, Beijing Institute of Health and Stem Cells, Health & Biotech Co, Beijing, 100176, China

Zhongchao Han

Centre National de Référence des Maladies Auto-Immunes et Systémiques Rares, Est/Sud-Ouest (RESO), Service de Rhumatologie, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Strasbourg, 67000, Strasbourg, France

Wenxin Ou & Jacques Eric Gottenberg

Chongqing Medical University, 1 Yixueyuan Road, Yuzhong District, Chongqing, 400016, China

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EAMA, RS, MM and WO wrote the draft of the manuscript. ZL, ZH, NBJ, JEG and GH revised the manuscript. All authors reviewed and approved the final manuscript.

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Correspondence to Nadia Benkirane-Jessel , Jacques Eric Gottenberg or Guoqiang Hua .

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Ali, E.A.M., Smaida, R., Meyer, M. et al. iPSCs chondrogenic differentiation for personalized regenerative medicine: a literature review. Stem Cell Res Ther 15 , 185 (2024). https://doi.org/10.1186/s13287-024-03794-1

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how to do research literature review

Spring 2025 Semester

Undergraduate courses.

Composition courses that offer many sections (ENGL 101, 201, 277 and 379) are not listed on this schedule unless they are tailored to specific thematic content or particularly appropriate for specific programs and majors.

  • 100-200 level

ENGL 201.ST2 Composition II: The Mind/Body Connection

Dr. sharon smith.

In this online section of English 201, students will use research and writing to learn more about problems that are important to them and articulate ways to address those problems. The course will focus specifically on issues related to the body, the mind, and the relationship between them. The topics we will discuss during the course will include the correlation between social media and body image; the psychological effects of self-objectification; and the unique mental and physical challenges faced by college students today, including food insecurity and stress.

English 201 S06 and S11: Composition II with an emphasis in Environmental Writing

S06: MWF at 10–10:50 a.m. in Yeager Hall Addition 231

S11: MWF at 12–12:50 p.m. in Crothers Engineering Hall 217

Gwen Horsley

English 201 will help students develop skills to write effectively for other university courses, careers, and themselves. This course will provide opportunities to further develop research skills, to write vividly, and to share their own stories and ideas. Specifically, in this class, students will (1) focus on the relationships between world environments, land, animals and humankind; (2) read various essays by environmental, conservational, and regional authors; and (3) produce student writings. Students will improve their writing skills by reading essays and applying techniques they witness in others’ work and those learned in class. This class is also a course in logical and creative thought. Students will write about humankind’s place in the world and our influence on the land and animals, places that hold special meaning to them or have influenced their lives, and stories of their own families and their places and passions in the world. Students will practice writing in an informed and persuasive manner, in language that engages and enlivens readers by using vivid verbs and avoiding unnecessary passives, nominalizations, and expletive constructions.

Students will prepare writing assignments based on readings and discussions of essays included in Literature and the Environment and other sources. They will use The St. Martin’s Handbook to review grammar, punctuation, mechanics, and usage as needed.

Required Text: Literature and the Environment: A Reader On Nature and Culture. 2nd ed., edited by Lorraine Anderson, Scott Slovic, and John P. O’Grady.

LING 203.S01 English Grammar

TuTh 12:30-1:45 p.m.

Dr. Nathan Serfling

The South Dakota State University 2023-2024 Undergraduate Catalog describes LING 203 as consisting of “[i]nstruction in the theory and practice of traditional grammar including the study of parts of speech, parsing, and practical problems in usage.”

“Grammar” is a mercurial term, though. Typically, we think of it to mean “correct” sentence structure, and, indeed, that is one of its meanings. But Merriam-Webster reminds us “grammar” also refers to “the principles or rules of an art, science, or technique,” taking it beyond the confines of syntactic structures. Grammar also evolves in practice through application (and social, historical, economic changes, among others). Furthermore, grammar evolves as a concept as scholars and educators in the various fields of English studies debate the definition and nature of grammar, including how well its explicit instruction improves students’ writing. In this course, we will use the differing sensibilities, definitions, and fluctuations regarding grammar to guide our work. We will examine the parts of speech, address syntactic structures and functions, and parse and diagram sentences. We will also explore definitions of and debates about grammar. All of this will occur in units about the rules and structures of grammar; the application of grammar rhetorically and stylistically; and the debates surrounding various aspects of grammar, including, but not limited to, its instruction.

ENGL 210 Introduction to Literature

Jodi andrews.

Readings in fiction, drama and poetry to acquaint students with literature and aesthetic form. Prerequisites: ENGL 101. Notes: Course meets SGR #4 or IGR #3.

ENGL 222 British Literature II

TuTh 9:30-10:45 a.m.

This course serves as a chronological survey of the second half of British literature. Students will read a variety of texts from the Romantic period, the Victorian period, and the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, placing these texts within their historical and literary contexts and identifying the major characteristics of the literary periods and movements that produced them.

ENGL 240.ST1 Juvenile Literature

Randi l. anderson.

A survey of the history of literature written for children and adolescents, and a consideration of the various types of juvenile literature.

ENGL 240.ST1 Juvenile Literature: 5-12 Grade

In English 240 students will develop the skills to interpret and evaluate various genres of literature for juvenile readers. This particular section will focus on various works of literature at approximately the 5th-12th grade level.

Readings for this course include works such as Night, Brown Girl Dreaming, All American Boys, Esperanza Rising, Anne Frank’s Diary: A Graphic Adaptation, Animal Farm, Fahrenheit 451, The Giver, The Hobbit, Little Women, and Lord of the Flies . These readings will be paired with chapters from Reading Children’s Literature: A Critical Introduction to help develop understanding of various genres, themes, and concepts that are both related to juvenile literature, and also present in our readings.

In addition to exploring various genres of writing (poetry, non-fiction, fantasy, historical, non-fiction, graphic novels, etc.) this course will also allow students to engage in a discussion of larger themes present in these works such as censorship, race, rebellion and dissent, power and oppression, gender, knowledge, and the power of language and the written word. Students’ understanding of these works and concepts will be developed through readings, discussion posts, quizzes and exams.

ENGL 240.ST2 Juvenile Literature Elementary-5th Grade

April myrick.

A survey of the history of literature written for children and adolescents, and a consideration of the various genres of juvenile literature. Text selection will focus on the themes of imagination and breaking boundaries.

ENGL 242.S01 American Literature II

TuTh 11 a.m.-12:15 p.m.

Dr. Paul Baggett

This course surveys a range of U.S. literatures from about 1865 to the present, writings that treat the end of slavery and the development of a segregated America, increasingly urbanized and industrialized U.S. landscapes, waves of immigration, and the fulfilled promise of “America” as imperial nation. The class will explore the diversity of identities represented during that time, and the problems/potentials writers imagined in response to the century’s changes—especially literature’s critical power in a time of nation-building. Required texts for the course are The Norton Anthology of American Literature: 1865 to the Present and Toni Morrison’s A Mercy.

WMST 247.S01: Introduction to Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies

As an introduction to Women, Gender and Sexuality studies, this course considers the experiences of women and provides an overview of the history of feminist thought and activism, particularly within the United States. Students will also consider the concepts of gender and sexuality more broadly to encompass a diversity of gender identifications and sexualities and will explore the degree to which mainstream feminism has—and has not—accommodated this diversity. The course will focus in particular on the ways in which gender and sexuality intersect with race, class, ethnicity, and disability. Topics and concepts covered will include: movements for women’s and LGBTQ+ rights; gender, sexuality and the body; intersectionality; rape culture; domestic and gender violence; reproductive rights; Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW); and more.

ENGL 283.S01 Introduction to Creative Writing

MWF 1-1:50 p.m.

Prof. Steven Wingate

Students will explore the various forms of creative writing (fiction, nonfiction and poetry) not one at a time in a survey format—as if there were decisive walls of separation between then—but as intensely related genres that share much of their creative DNA. Through close reading and work on personal texts, students will address the decisions that writers in any genre must face on voice, rhetorical position, relationship to audience, etc. Students will produce and revise portfolios of original creative work developed from prompts and research. This course fulfills the same SGR #2 requirements ENGL 201; note that the course will involve creative research projects. Successful completion of ENGL 101 (including by test or dual credit) is a prerequisite.

English 284: Introduction to Criticism

This course introduces students to selected traditions of literary and cultural theory and to some of the key issues that animate discussion among literary scholars today. These include questions about the production of cultural value, about ideology and hegemony, about the patriarchal and colonial bases of Western culture, and about the status of the cultural object, of the cultural critic, and of cultural theory itself.

To address these and other questions, we will survey the history of literary theory and criticism (a history spanning 2500 years) by focusing upon a number of key periods and -isms: Greek and Roman Classicism, The Middle Ages and Renaissance, The Enlightenment, Romanticism, Realism, Formalism, Historicism, Political Criticism (Marxism, Post-Colonialism, Feminism, et al.), and Psychological Criticism. We also will “test” various theories we discuss by examining how well they account for and help us to understand various works of poetry and fiction.

  • 300-400 level

ENGL 330.S01 Shakespeare

TuTh 8-9:15 a.m.

Dr. Michael S. Nagy

This course will focus on William Shakespeare’s poetic and dramatic works and on the cultural and social contexts in which he wrote them. In this way, we will gain a greater appreciation of the fact that literature does not exist in a vacuum, for it both reflects and influences contemporary and subsequent cultures. Text: The Riverside Shakespeare: Complete Works. Ed. Evans, G. Blakemore and J. J. M. Tobin. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1997.

ENGL 363 Science Fiction

MWF 11-11:50 a.m.

This course explores one of the most significant literary genres of the past century in fiction and in film. We will focus in particular on the relationship between science fiction works and technological and social developments, with considerable attention paid to the role of artificial intelligence in the human imagination. Why does science fiction seem to predict the future? What do readers and writers of the genre hope to find in it? Through readings and viewings of original work, as well as selected criticism in the field, we will address these and other questions. Our reading and viewing selections will include such artists as Ursula K. LeGuin, Octavia Butler, Stanley Kubrick and Phillip K. Dick. Students will also have ample opportunity to introduce the rest of the class to their own favorite science fiction works.

ENGL 383.S01 Creative Writing I

MWF 2-2:50 p.m.

Amber Jensen

Creative Writing I encourages students to strengthen poetry, creative nonfiction, and/or fiction writing skills through sustained focus on creative projects throughout the course (for example, collections of shorter works focused on a particular form/style/theme, longer prose pieces, hybrid works, etc.). Students will engage in small- and large-group writing workshops as well as individual conferences with the instructor throughout the course to develop a portfolio of creative work. The class allows students to explore multiple genres through the processes of writing and revising their own creative texts and through writing workshop, emphasizing the application of craft concepts across genre, but also allows students to choose one genre of emphasis, which they will explore through analysis of self-select texts, which they will use to deepen their understanding of the genre and to contextualize their own creative work.

ENGL 475.S01 Creative Nonfiction

Mondays 3-5:50 p.m.

In this course, students will explore the expansive and exciting genre of creative nonfiction, including a variety of forms such as personal essay, braided essay, flash nonfiction, hermit crab essays, profiles and more. Through rhetorical reading, discussion, and workshop, students will engage published works, their own writing process, and peer work as they expand their understanding of the possibilities presented in this genre and the craft elements that can be used to shape readers’ experience of a text. Students will compile a portfolio of polished work that demonstrates their engagement with course concepts and the writing process.

ENGL 485.S01 Writing Center Tutoring

MW 8:30-9:45 a.m.

Since their beginnings in the 1920s and 30s, writing centers have come to serve numerous functions: as hubs for writing across the curriculum initiatives, sites to develop and deliver workshops, and resource centers for faculty as well as students, among other functions. But the primary function of writing centers has necessarily and rightfully remained the tutoring of student writers. This course will immerse you in that function in two parts. During the first four weeks, you will explore writing center praxis—that is, the dialogic interplay of theory and practice related to writing center work. This part of the course will orient you to writing center history, key theoretical tenets and practical aspects of writing center tutoring. Once we have developed and practiced this foundation, you will begin work in the writing center as a tutor, responsible for assisting a wide variety of student clients with numerous writing tasks. Through this work, you will learn to actively engage with student clients in the revision of a text, respond to different student needs and abilities, work with a variety of writing tasks and rhetorical situations and develop a richer sense of writing as a complex and negotiated social process.

ENGL 492.S01 The Vietnam War in Literature and Film

Tuesdays 3-5:50 p.m.

Dr. Jason McEntee

In 1975, the United States officially included its involvement in the Vietnam War, thus marking 2025 as the 50th anniversary of the conclusion (in name only) of one of the most chaotic, confusing, and complex periods in American history. In this course, we will consider how literature and film attempt to chronicle the Vietnam War and, perhaps more important, its aftermath. I have designed this course for those looking to extend their understanding of literature and film to include the ideas of art, experience, commercial products, and cultural documents. Learning how to interpret literature and movies remains the highest priority of the course, including, for movies, the study of such things as genre, mise-en-scene (camera movement, lighting, etc.), editing, sound and so forth.

We will read Dispatches , A Rumor of War , The Things They Carried , A Piece of My Heart , and Bloods , among others. Some of the movies that we will screen are: Apocalypse Now (the original version), Full Metal Jacket , Platoon , Coming Home , Born on the Fourth of July , Dead Presidents , and Hearts and Minds . Because we must do so, we will also look at some of the more fascinatingly outrageous yet culturally significant fantasies about the war, such as The Green Berets and Rambo: First Blood, Part II .

ENGL 492.S02 Classical Mythology

TuTh 3:30-4:45 p.m.

Drs. Michael S. Nagy and Graham Wrightson

Modern society’s fascination with mythology manifests itself in the continued success of novels, films and television programs about mythological or quasi-mythological characters such as Hercules, the Fisher King, and Gandalf the Grey, all of whom are celebrated for their perseverance or their daring deeds in the face of adversity. This preoccupation with mythological figures necessarily extends back to the cultures which first propagated these myths in early folk tales and poems about such figures as Oðin, King Arthur, Rhiannon, Gilgamesh, and Odysseus, to name just a few. English 492, a reading-intensive course cross-listed with History 492, primarily aims to expose students to the rich tradition of mythological literature written in languages as varied as French, Gaelic, Welsh, Old Icelandic, Greek, and Sumerian; to explore the historical, social, political, religious, and literary contexts in which these works flourished (if indeed they did); and to grapple with the deceptively simple question of what makes these myths continue to resonate with modern audiences. Likely topics and themes of this course will include: Theories of myth; Mythological Beginnings: Creation myths and the fall of man; Male and Female Gods in Myth; Foundation myths; Nature Myths; The Heroic Personality; the mythological portrayal of (evil/disruptive) women in myth; and Monsters in myth.

Likely Texts:

  • Dalley, Stephanie, trans. Myths from Mesopotamia: Creation, the Flood, Gilgamesh, and Others. Oxford World’s Classics, 2009
  • Faulkes, Anthony, trans. Edda. Everyman, 1995
  • Gregory, Lady Augusta. Cuchulain of Muirthemne: The Story of the Men of the Red Branch of Ulster. Forgotten Books, 2007
  • Jones, Gwyn, Thomas Jones, and Mair Jones. The Mabinogion. Everyman Paperback Classics, 1993
  • Larrington, Carolyne, trans. The Poetic Edda . Oxford World’s Classics, 2009
  • Matarasso, Pauline M., trans. The Quest of the Holy Grail. Penguin Classics, 1969
  • Apollodorus, Hesiod’s Theogony
  • Hesiod’s Works and Days
  • Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Homeric Hymns
  • Virgil’s Aeneid
  • Iliad, Odyssey
  • Apollonius of Rhodes Argonautica
  • Ovid’s Heroides
  • Greek tragedies: Orestaia, Oedipus trilogy, Trojan Women, Medea, Hippoolytus, Frogs, Seneca's Thyestes, Dyskolos, Amphitryon
  • Clash of the Titans, Hercules, Jason and the Argonauts, Troy (and recent miniseries), Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?

ENGL 492.ST1 Science Writing

Erica summerfield.

This course aims to teach the fundamentals of effective scientific writing and presentation. The course examines opportunities for covering science, the skills required to produce clear and understandable text about technical subjects, and important ethical and practical constraints that govern the reporting of scientific information. Students will learn to present technical and scientific issues to various audiences. Particular emphasis will be placed on conveying the significance of research, outlining the aims, and discussing the results for scientific papers and grant proposals. Students will learn to write effectively, concisely, and clearly while preparing a media post, fact sheet, and scientific manuscript or grant.

Graduate Courses

Engl 575.s01 creative nonfiction.

In this course, students will explore the expansive and exciting genre of creative nonfiction, including a variety of forms such as personal essay, braided essay, flash nonfiction, hermit crab essays, profiles, and more. Through rhetorical reading, discussion, and workshop, students will engage published works, their own writing process, and peer work as they expand their understanding of the possibilities presented in this genre and the craft elements that can be used to shape readers’ experience of a text. Students will compile a portfolio of polished work that demonstrates their engagement with course concepts and the writing process.

ENGL 592.S01: The Vietnam War in Literature and Film

Engl 704.s01 introduction to graduate studies.

Thursdays 3-5:50 p.m.

Introduction to Graduate Studies is required of all first-year graduate students. The primary purpose of this course is to introduce students to modern and contemporary literary theory and its applications. Students will write short response papers and will engage at least one theoretical approach in their own fifteen- to twenty-page scholarly research project. In addition, this course will further introduce students to the M.A. program in English at South Dakota State University and provide insight into issues related to the profession of English studies.

ENGL 792.ST1 Grant Writing

This online course will familiarize students with the language, rhetorical situation, and components of writing grant proposals. Students will explore various funding sources, learn to read an RFP, and develop an understanding of different professional contexts and the rhetorical and structural elements that suit those distinct contexts. Students will write a sample proposal throughout the course and offer feedback to their peers, who may be writing in different contexts, which will enhance their understanding of the varied applications of course content. Through their work in the course, students will gain confidence in their ability to find, apply for, and receive grant funding to support their communities and organizations.

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    Step One: Decide on your areas of research: Before you begin to search for articles or books, decide beforehand what areas you are going to research. Make sure that you only get articles and books in those areas, even if you come across fascinating books in other areas. A literature review I am currently working on, for example, explores ...

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    Step 3: Critically analyze the literature. Key to your literature review is a critical analysis of the literature collected around your topic. The analysis will explore relationships, major themes, and any critical gaps in the research expressed in the work. Read and summarize each source with an eye toward analyzing authority, currency ...

  12. What is a Literature Review? How to Write It (with Examples)

    A literature review is a critical analysis and synthesis of existing research on a particular topic. It provides an overview of the current state of knowledge, identifies gaps, and highlights key findings in the literature. 1 The purpose of a literature review is to situate your own research within the context of existing scholarship ...

  13. Steps for Conducting a Lit Review

    Conducting a literature review is usually recursive, meaning that somewhere along the way, you'll find yourself repeating steps out-of-order. That is actually a good sign. Reviewing the research should lead to more research questions and those questions will likely lead you to either revise your initial research question or go back and find ...

  14. How to write a superb literature review

    The best proposals are timely and clearly explain why readers should pay attention to the proposed topic. It is not enough for a review to be a summary of the latest growth in the literature: the ...

  15. Research Guides: Literature Reviews: What is a Literature Review?

    A literature review is meant to analyze the scholarly literature, make connections across writings and identify strengths, weaknesses, trends, and missing conversations. A literature review should address different aspects of a topic as it relates to your research question. A literature review goes beyond a description or summary of the ...

  16. Literature Reviews?

    Most literature reviews are embedded in articles, books, and dissertations. In most research articles, there are set as a specific section, usually titled, "literature review", so they are hard to miss.But, sometimes, they are part of the narrative of the introduction of a book or article. This section is easily recognized since the author is engaging with other academics and experts by ...

  17. How To Do Secondary Research or a Literature Review

    Step-by-step guide to forming keywords and searching for articles for a literature review. This page explains how research ethics, integrity, and the responsible conduct of research (RCR) apply in secondary research and literature reviews.

  18. Writing an effective literature review

    Mapping the gap. The purpose of the literature review section of a manuscript is not to report what is known about your topic. The purpose is to identify what remains unknown—what academic writing scholar Janet Giltrow has called the 'knowledge deficit'—thus establishing the need for your research study [].In an earlier Writer's Craft instalment, the Problem-Gap-Hook heuristic was ...

  19. Writing a literature review

    How to write a literature review in 6 steps. How do you write a good literature review? This step-by-step guide on how to write an excellent literature review covers all aspects of planning and writing literature reviews for academic papers and theses.

  20. How-to conduct a systematic literature review: A quick guide for

    Abstract. Performing a literature review is a critical first step in research to understanding the state-of-the-art and identifying gaps and challenges in the field. A systematic literature review is a method which sets out a series of steps to methodically organize the review. In this paper, we present a guide designed for researchers and in ...

  21. What are Literature Reviews?

    Literature reviews are comprehensive summaries and syntheses of the previous research on a given topic. While narrative reviews are common across all academic disciplines, reviews that focus on appraising and synthesizing research evidence are increasingly important in the health and social sciences.. Most evidence synthesis methods use formal and explicit methods to identify, select and ...

  22. Research Guides: Process: Literature Reviews: Literature Review

    The Literature Review will place your research in context. It will help you and your readers: Locate patterns, relationships, connections, agreements, disagreements, & gaps in understanding. Identify methodological and theoretical foundations. Identify landmark and exemplary works. Situate your voice in a broader conversation with other writers ...

  23. Steps for Conducting a Lit Review

    Your literature review should be guided by a central research question. Remember, it is not a collection of loosely related studies in a field but instead represents background and research developments related to a specific research question, interpreted and analyzed by you in a synthesized way. ... Review the abstracts of research studies ...

  24. How To Do Secondary Research or a Literature Review

    A literature review ("lit review" for short) is a specific type of secondary research used mainly in academic or scholarly settings. It consists of a compilation of the relevant scholarly materials (not popular materials such as news articles or general websites) on your subject, which you then read, synthesize, and cite as needed within your assignment, paper, thesis, or dissertation.

  25. How to Do a Systematic Review: A Best Practice Guide for ...

    Systematic reviews are characterized by a methodical and replicable methodology and presentation. They involve a comprehensive search to locate all relevant published and unpublished work on a subject; a systematic integration of search results; and a critique of the extent, nature, and quality of evidence in relation to a particular research question.

  26. Reviewing literature for research: Doing it the right way

    Selecting the right quality of literature is the key to successful research literature review. The quality can be estimated by what is known as "The Evidence Pyramid.". The level of evidence of references obtained from the aforementioned search tools are depicted in Figure 9. Systematic reviews obtained from Cochrane library constitute ...

  27. MLA research proposal format: a guide to essentials

    When conducting a literature review for an MLA research proposal, consider the following MLA guidelines for essay projects: Relevant sources: Focus on recent and pertinent literature to support your research context. Citation consistency: Adhere strictly to MLA citation guidelines to maintain uniformity and avoid plagiarism. ...

  28. iPSCs chondrogenic differentiation for personalized regenerative

    Cartilage, an important connective tissue, provides structural support to other body tissues, and serves as a cushion against impacts throughout the body. Found at the end of the bones, cartilage decreases friction and averts bone-on-bone contact during joint movement. Therefore, defects of cartilage can result from natural wear and tear, or from traumatic events, such as injuries or sudden ...

  29. Spring 2025 Semester

    Undergraduate CoursesComposition courses that offer many sections (ENGL 101, 201, 277 and 379) are not listed on this schedule unless they are tailored to specific thematic content or particularly appropriate for specific programs and majors.100-200 levelENGL 201.ST2 Composition II: The Mind/Body ConnectionOnlineDr. Sharon SmithIn this online section of English 201, students will use research ...