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Published by at January 18th, 2024 , Revised On March 7, 2024

Can Literature Review Include Newspaper Articles

A cornerstone of academic research, the literature review lays the foundation for any scholarly endeavour. It maps the existing knowledge landscape, identifying key themes, debates, and gaps. But when it comes to source selection, students often find it confusing as to which sources to add and which ones not to add. One such query is, “Can literature review include newspaper articles?”

The answer, like many things in academia, is detailed. While purists might argue for exclusive reliance on peer-reviewed journals, dismissing newspapers as brief and lacking in scholarly rigour, others champion their potential to inject real-world context and public discourse into the academic conversation.

Let’s explore the pros and cons, and then it would be easy for you to answer, “Can literature review include newspaper articles?”

Pros Of Including Newspaper Articles In Literature Review

Some of the advantages of adding newspaper articles to a preliminary literature review are explained below.

Timeliness And Relevance

Newspaper articles are known for their rapid reporting of current events. In certain fields, particularly those related to current affairs, politics, and social issues, including newspaper articles in a literature review can provide up-to-date and relevant information. 

This timeliness can enhance the comprehensiveness of the review and ensure that it reflects the most recent developments in the field.

Diverse Perspectives

Newspapers offer a platform for a wide range of perspectives and opinions. Including articles from various newspapers can expose research papers to diverse viewpoints on a given topic, enriching the literature review with a more comprehensive understanding of the subject matter. 

This diversity can be particularly beneficial when exploring the social and cultural dimensions of a topic.

Primary Source For Certain Topics

In some cases, newspapers serve as primary sources for historical events or cultural phenomena. Including newspaper articles from specific time periods can provide unique insights into the public sentiment, reactions, and perceptions of events as they unfolded. This primary source material can add depth and authenticity to the literature review.

Multimodal Content

Newspapers often incorporate multimedia elements such as photographs, infographics, and firsthand accounts. These elements can offer a more holistic understanding of the events or issues being discussed. Including such multimodal content in a literature review can make it more engaging and visually informative for readers.

Cons Of Including Newspaper Articles

While the benefits might answer your question “Can literature review include newspapers?” positively, there are some cons to it. 

Lack Of Peer Review

One of the primary criticisms of including newspaper articles in meta-synthesis literature reviews is the absence of peer review. Unlike scholarly journals, newspapers are not subjected to rigorous academic scrutiny. This raises concerns about the reliability and accuracy of information presented in these articles.

Bias And Sensationalism

Newspapers are known for their editorial stance and potential for bias. Including biased or sensationalized articles may compromise the literature review’s objectivity. Research papers need to critically assess the credibility of the news sources and be cautious about incorporating information that may be skewed or incomplete.

Depth Of Analysis

While newspaper articles can provide a snapshot of current events, they may lack the depth of analysis found in academic publications. Including shallow or superficial information in a literature review may undermine its scholarly rigour and fail to contribute significantly to the understanding of the topic.

Limited Generalizability

Newspaper articles often focus on specific events or localized issues. Depending solely on such sources may limit the generalizability of the literature review. Researchers need to consider whether the findings from newspaper articles can be applied more broadly to the research question at hand.

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Finding The Sweet Spot

So, should you include newspaper articles in your literature review? The answer, as we’ve established, is a qualified yes. It all depends on your specific research question, the availability of relevant academic sources, and your ability to critically evaluate the newspaper content.

Here are some tips for navigating this tightrope:

  • Prioritize Peer-Reviewed Sources: Always aim for academic journals and other scholarly publications as the backbone of your review. Use newspaper articles as supplementary sources to provide context, support, or illustrate real-world applications.
  • Choose Carefully: Be discerning about the newspapers you select. Opt for reputable publications with a strong track record of journalistic integrity and fact-checking. Avoid tabloids and sensationalized media outlets.
  • Critical Evaluation: Apply the same critical lens you would use for any academic source. Question the author’s expertise, bias, and methodology. Analyze the evidence presented and consider potential alternative perspectives.
  • Transparency is Key: Clearly differentiate between academic and non-academic sources in your review. Cite newspaper articles explicitly and provide full bibliographic information.

Remember, your literature review should demonstrate your ability to engage with a diverse range of sources critically. Including newspaper articles strategically can showcase your awareness of the broader societal context and add a layer of richness to your analysis.

How To Include A Newspaper Article In Literature Review

Citing newspaper articles in a literature review requires adherence to a specific citation style. The choice of citation style often depends on the academic discipline or the preferences of the journal or institution to which you are submitting your work. Here are some examples of citing newspaper articles in two widely used citation styles: American Psychological Association (APA) and Modern Language Association (MLA).

APA Style

In APA style, the general format for citing newspaper articles in the reference list is as follows:

Author, A. A. (Year, Month Day). Title of the article. Title of the Newspaper, page range. URL or DOI (if available)


Khanh, J. A. (Year, Month Day). Global warming effects on marine life. New York Times, A1.

If the article is retrieved online:

Khanh, J. A. (Year, Month Day). Global warming effects on marine life. New York Times. URL

MLA Style

In MLA style, the format for citing newspaper articles is as follows:

Author(s). “Title of Article.” Title of Newspaper, Day Month Year, page range.


Smith, John. “Global warming effects on marine life.” New York Times, 12 May 2023, A1.

If the article is retrieved online, include the URL:

Author(s). “Title of Article.” Title of Newspaper, Day Month Year, page range. URL


Smith, John. “Global warming effects on marine life.” New York Times, 12 May 2023, A1. URL

Newspaper Citation Tips

  • Include as much information as possible: Provide the author’s name, article title, newspaper name, publication date, and page range. For online articles, include the URL or DOI.
  • Italicize newspaper names: Both in APA and MLA styles, italicize the title of the newspaper.
  • Check for DOI or URL: If the article is available online, include the DOI (Digital Object Identifier) or the direct URL. This is particularly important for APA style.
  • Use hanging indentation: In the reference list, use hanging indentation (the first line of each reference is flush left, and subsequent lines are indented).
  • Be consistent: Follow the citation style consistently throughout your literature review.

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, literature reviews can include newspaper articles to provide timely and diverse perspectives. However, caution is needed due to the lack of peer review and potential bias, impacting the review’s scholarly rigour.

Yes, newspaper articles can be used in a literature review for their timeliness and diverse perspectives. However, their lack of peer review and potential bias require careful evaluation to maintain scholarly integrity.

A literature review should exclude personal opinions, unsubstantiated claims, and irrelevant details. Avoid including outdated sources, biased information, or studies lacking methodological rigour. Focus on relevant, credible, and recent research to maintain the review’s scholarly value.

Yes, articles, especially scholarly peer-reviewed ones, are crucial in literature reviews. They provide in-depth analyses, research findings, and theoretical frameworks that contribute to the understanding of the chosen topic, enhancing the review’s academic credibility.

No, newspapers are not typically considered literature in the academic sense. While they contain valuable information, literature traditionally refers to written works of artistic and intellectual value, such as novels, poems, and essays.

Literature review articles are scholarly works that summarize, analyze, and synthesize existing research on a specific topic. They critically evaluate the available literature, identify gaps, and contribute to the understanding of a particular subject within academic disciplines.

The number of articles in a literature review varies based on the scope, depth, and purpose of the review. Generally, it includes a sufficient number of relevant and high-quality sources to comprehensively cover the chosen topic, often ranging from dozens to hundreds of articles.

About Nicolas

Avatar for NicolasNicolas holds a master's degree in literature and has earned a PhD in statistics. He has a keen interest in writing, culinary arts, and running. Nicolas is dedicated to assisting students at various academic levels.

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