Difference Between Introduction and Literature Review

Main Difference – Introduction vs Literature Review

Although introduction and literature review are found towards the beginning of a text, there is a difference between them in terms of their function and purpose. The main difference between introduction and literature review is their purpose; the purpose of an introduction is to briefly introduce the text to the readers whereas the purpose of a literature review is to review and critically evaluate the existing research on a selected research area. 

In this article, we will be discussing,

     1. What is an Introduction?
          – Definition, Features, Characteristics

     2. What is a Literature Review?
          – Definition, Features, Characteristics

     3. What is the difference between Introduction and Literature Review?Difference Between Introduction and Literature Review - Comparison Summary

What is an Introduction

An introduction is the first part of an article, paper, book or a study that briefly introduces what will be found in the following sections. An introduction basically introduces the text to the readers. It may contain various types of information, but given below some common elements that can be found in the introduction section.

  • Background/context to the paper
  • Outline of key issues
  • Thesis statement
  • Aims and purpose of the paper
  • Definition of terms and concepts

Note that some introductions may not have all these elements. For example, an introduction to a short essay will only have several lines. Introductions can be found in nonfiction books, essays, research articles, thesis, etc. There can be slight variations in these various genres, but all these introductions will provide a basic outline of the whole text. 

Introduction of a thesis or dissertation will describe the background of the research, your rationale for the thesis topic, what exactly are you trying to answer, and the importance of your research.

Difference Between Introduction and Literature Review

What is a Literature Review

A literature review, which is written at the start of a research study, is essential to a research project. A literature review is an evaluation of the existing research material on a selected research area. This involves reading the major published work (both printed and online work) in a chosen research area and reviewing and critically evaluating them. A literature review should show the researcher’s awareness and insight of contrasting arguments, theories, and approaches. According to Caulley (1992) a good literature review should do the following:

  • Compare and contrast different researchers’ views
  • Identify areas in which researchers are in disagreement
  • Group researchers who have similar conclusions
  • Criticize the research methodology
  • Highlight exemplary studies
  • Highlight gaps in research
  • Indicate the connection between your study and previous studies
  • Indicate how your study will contribute to the literature in general
  • Conclude by summarizing what the literature says

Literature reviews help researchers to evaluate the existing literature, to identify a gap in the research area, to place their study in the existing research and identify future research.

Main Difference - Introduction vs Literature Review

Difference Between Introduction and Literature Review


Introduction is at the beginning of a text.

Literature Review is located after the introduction or background.


Introduction introduces the main text to the readers.

Literature Review critically evaluates the existing research on the selected research area and identifies the research gap.


Introduction will have information such as background/context to the paper, outline of key issues, thesis statement, aims, and purpose of the paper and definition of terms and concepts. 

Literature Review will have summaries, reviews, critical evaluations, and comparisons of selected research studies.

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About the Author: Hasa

Hasanthi is a seasoned content writer and editor with over 8 years of experience. Armed with a BA degree in English and a knack for digital marketing, she explores her passions for literature, history, culture, and food through her engaging and informative writing.

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