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Michigan State University

Biosystems & Agricultural Engineering: Literature Review

This guide provides key resources for researching biosystems and agricultural engineering topics, including bioenergy, food safety and quality sensors, water quality, sustainable ecosystems, resource conservation, and biosensors.

What is a literature review

The term "literature review" can mean different things in different contexts.  All share in common the idea of examining the scholarly literature on a topic.  It is the end result that differs:

An Annotated Bibliography is "a bibliography that includes brief explanations or notes for each reference" (from  The notes may be evaluative or simply a summary.

A literature review can be free-standing article. "A review article or review of the literature article considers the state and progress of current literature on a given topic or problem by organizing, integrating, and evaluating previously published books and articles. In short, a review article is a critical evaluation of material that has already been published." (Writing Literature Reviews)  "The purpose is to offer an overview of significant literature published on a topic." (Write a Literature Review)

A literature review is a vital part of research papers including theses and dissertations.  "Surveying the literature is necessary because scholarship is cumulative -- no matter what you write, you are standing on someone else's shoulders. Scholars must say something new while connecting what they say to what has already been said." (Writing Literature Reviews);

Below are some useful links for writing a literature review.

Learn How to Write a Review of Literature - University of Wisconsin Writing Center

Guidelines for Writing a Literature Review - University of Minnesota, Duluth

Write a Literature Review - UC Santa Cruz

Literature Review: A Few Tips on Conducting It - University of Toronto

Literature Review Tutorial - CQ University

Writing Literature Reviews - Clarmont Graduate University

Online Articles & Chapters on Lit Reviews

Related interest

Video Summarizing the Literature Review Process

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Courtesy of the University of North Carolina State University Libraries

Ebooks on lit reviews

Print resouces on lit reviews

Systematic Review compared to a Literature Review

Systematic Review compared to a Literature Review

Kysh, Lynn (2013): Difference between a systematic review and a literature review. [figshare]. Available at:

Michigan State University