A literature review provides an overview of the scholarly information published to date on a specific topic, summarizing and synthesizing the ideas presented. At the undergraduate level, a literature review differs from a research paper in that no new primary research is presented. At the graduate level, literature reviews often constitute a chapter of a thesis or dissertation and provide an intellectual context for the author's own research.
The literature review differs from an annotated bibliography: it is a narrative document that synthesizes the sources consulted to develop a conclusion. An annotated bibliography deals with each resource in turn, describing and evaluating the source in a single paragraph.