Existing Literature | Meaning, Sources, and Examples of Use

A dissection of the term existing literature will leave us with ‘existing’ and ‘literature’ separately, both of which are no new words to us. But when coalesced, do they really imply what we think of them? This and similar questions define what we shall grapple with, in this article. 

Existing Literature Meaning

An existing literature denotes a literary work previously written. It also depicts works of art that have surfaced before a given time. It is simply another way to say a surviving piece of literature. 

We say existing literature when the material has appeared before the time of making the statement. It has to be a work that’s been made, and one that is still surviving. 

For example, the existing literature on the discipline or topic (of something) may be tiringly boring. 

Read Also: What does extant mean in literature?

Sources of Existing Literature

There are several sources of existing literature, including but not limited to: 

  • Database 
  • Textbooks  
  • Film footages
  • Almanacs 
  • Court records 
  • Journal articles 
  • Diaries 
  • History 
  • Political commentaries 
  • Blog posts 
  • Empirical studies 
  • Poetry 
  • Transcripts 
  • Biographies and autobiographies 
  • Memories
  • Interviews
  • Social media posts 
  • Dictionaries 
  • Newspaper articles 
  • Encyclopedias 
  • Books!

Existing Literature Example Sentences 

Existing Literature | Meaning, Sources, and Examples of Use
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Following are proper examples of the use of the phrase ‘existing literature’: 

  1. We have only a small existing literature on water purification. 
  1. Let us start the project by working on the aspects where existing literature flopped. 
  1. The lecturer said his result isn’t consistent with those of the existing literature. 
  1. Existing literature has always left this part out of the deal for no obvious reasons. 
  1. As a researcher, I wasn’t trained to make up things; at least a single existing literature can get me started. 
  1. In 1921, there seemed to be no existing literature on radical literature—at least we couldn’t find one. 
  1. The blueprint you need is not far-fetched; any existing literature will do. 
  1. Existing literature serves as a guide. 
  1. Can you distinguish between our approaches and those in the existing literature?
  1. The existing literature on existing literature is not so detailed. 

Related Words 

A number of other terms share meanings that are not far from the meaning of existing literature. For those that could be said as near in meaning, we have extant literature, extant theory, and extant research

On the other hand, the opposite of existing literature would be extinct literature. Extinct literature seems like the near opposite phrase to existing literature in the English language. 

Commonly Asked Questions

People also ask: 

Is ‘Existing Literature’ a correct English Phrase? 

The phrase probably sounds unnatural to you, but it actually isn’t. According to LudWig, it is grammatical to refer to previously written materials on a topic as existing literature on such topics

It follows that the phrase is correct and can be used in the English language. 

What Does it Mean to Review Existing Literature? 

To review existing literature (on a topic) is to go through previously made literary works on any given topic. 

The essence of this is to have a better understanding of a topic or subject matter, sometimes discipline. The phrase ‘review existing literature’ is commonly used among researchers— they feel obliged to know what others have had to say about one thing or the other. 

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