I really can not find a justifiable answer to this question. Are they used interchangeably? One answer that's i found to be true is that we use the term literature review in writing thesis and related work in the writing research paper. but i am not sure if it is correct or not?

  • 2
    Can you perhaps provide an example of somewhere that you've seen "Related work" used in a relevant context? And perhaps the field that you're working in? With the information available from your question, it's not clear to me exactly what you're asking. For the most part, I'd imagine they're the same but you may have a very specific context in mind where some difference is intended.
    – Ian_Fin
    Commented Oct 20, 2016 at 8:09
  • 1
    A literature review is a chapter in a monograph/thesis, and a related work is a section in a article/paper. Commented Jul 4, 2017 at 10:43

2 Answers 2


I've been looking last week for the difference between the literature review and the background. And I found this which may help you, a good definition of what the literature supposed to be (in my opinion): https://academia.stackexchange.com/a/49629/57676

I'm not sure, but I think the literature review can be regarded as related work in more storytelling style. And yes, related work is more frequent in research papers because you don't have enough space to "build a conceptual structure that ties together all the key ideas". Therefore, you just describe briefly what has been done and maybe try to compare it theoretically against what you're proposing, I think.


I have also faced this problem of defining the difference between these two terms. I got to write a paper to a conference and since it's my very first paper I was searching for some tutorials on youtube for 'writing a related work section in the paper'. What I found was mainly related to Literature Review. So I guess these two things are almost the same. Also, as it was said previously Literature Review is more frequent in thesises.

Maybe you may find this article useful https://guidetogradschoolsurvival.wordpress.com/2011/04/08/how-to-write-related-work/

at least for me, it was. Good luck!

You must log in to answer this question.

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