I would like to practice writing lit review from reading other papers and looking at the style of writing. Where usually are the review sections found in papers? Is it the "Introduction" Section, for example?

  • 3
    Literature review or "literature review"? Your question is potentially mixing the two together. Most articles have review of literature in the introduction and possibly in discussion as well, but by no means they need to be exhaustive. A type of articles is called "literature review," which is really all about reviewing literature based on some predetermined research question. For the latter, you can just search title for key words "literature review." Oct 24, 2013 at 14:49
  • it does sound like the OP is referring to the former kind (the related work section of a paper)
    – Suresh
    Oct 24, 2013 at 17:12
  • 2
    If you can't find it, then you probably shouldn't try to write one. Oct 24, 2013 at 17:51
  • It's often in Section 2 (but not always). Your best bet is to find the page with the most bracketed numbers, like [1], [2] etc., and that will probably be the lit review. Nov 20, 2014 at 21:13

1 Answer 1


The portion of a paper where previous literature is summarized and elucidated upon is also known as (but not restricted to)

  • Literature Review
  • Background
  • Related Work
  • Previous Work etc.

In my brief life as a graduate student, I have heard of multiple strategies to write a literature review. I will describe one such path which I personally utilize (in part, because this is what my previous adviser always trained me to do)

The Annotated Bibliography Approach

What is an annotated bibliography?

This is perhaps the best advice to start writing one. Note that I am also affiliated to Cornell University but this has nothing to do with my affiliation.


Assume that I am writing a paper for CHI 2014. My area is in privacy and surveillance. I want to look at the relationship between manual location sharing and privacy concerns.

I look at all the related papers I have read in the area and realize that their are four major categories that could evolve from this reading and still be relevant to the writing of this paper.

So, in a draft, I write down:

Literature Review

  Privacy Frameworks

  Location Based System Research

  Privacy Measurement Scales

  Privacy Aware Design

Then, under each category I start writing the references (in the style of your area ; in my area its in the ACM style) of the relevant papers and a couple of lines about each paper which explains the main contributino of the paper. For instance:

  Location Based Systems Usage

Janne Lindqvist, Justin Cranshaw, Jason Wiese, Jason Hong, and John Zimmerman. 2011. I'm the mayor of my house: examining why people use foursquare - a social-driven location sharing application. In Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI '11). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 2409-2418. DOI=10.1145/1978942.1979295 http://doi.acm.org/10.1145/1978942.1979295

This exploratory paper examines why people use foursquare, a manual location sharing application. It determines three major reasons why people do so - to gain points and compete with friends, to track their location as a form of a diary and to earn discounts and special offers from business venues that they visit. Emerging social norms and online identity management are also briefly alluded to in the discussion section of this paper.

Now, once you have all your relevant papers written up in this format, your annotated bibliography and by extension, your literature review is almost done. You copy the references to their rightful place at the end of the paper (References or Bibliography section)

Then, the final step is to simply integrate the few lines that you have written about each paper in to coherent paragraphs and voila, you have a very passable first draft of your literature review.

I hope this made a little sense of how you go about writing one. I can understand that writing a literature review for the first time can feel like a very daunting task.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .