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A literature review is both process and product. The literature review process entails a systematic examination of prior research, evaluation studies, and scholarship to answer questions of theory, policy, and practice. Literature review as a product persuasively presents new knowledge synthesized from prior inquiries. Its value lies in the opportunities it affords for articulating continuities and contradictions across diverse groups of studies, for reflecting on the quality of normative understandings and methods, and for facilitating discourse among research and evaluation communities that might not communicate directly.

In its most familiar role, literature review prefaces proposals for and reports of new empirical investigations. As a preface, a literature review articulates a context of antecedent investigations for the new inquiry, demonstrating how the new work can make important ...

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