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what does " the research literature " means ?

We know from the research literature that the more you use social media, the more likely you are to feel lonely or isolated.

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    What about it don't you understand? "Research" and "literature" are well-defined terms. – Mike Harris Aug 16 '17 at 14:53
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Literature in this context is not used in its most common sense of "fiction and novels", but in a slightly more technical sense. From the OED:

  1. (A body of) non-fictional books and writings published on a particular subject.

Thus, the "research literature" refers collectively to the publications that have been published as a result of research on a particular subject.

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