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A literature review is an integrated analysis - not just a summary - of scholarly writings that are related directly to your research question. That is, it represents the literature that provides background information on your topic and shows a correspondence between those writings and your research question. In contrast to an academic research paper, the focus of a literature review is to summarize and synthesize the arguments and ideas of others without adding new contributions.
According to the APA 7th Manual, literature review articles “provide narrative summaries and evaluations of the findings or theories within a literature base” and “capture trends in the literature” (2020, p. 8).
A literature review is important because it: