What is the different meanings of these two phrases?

  • to find answers in literature
  • to find answers in the literature

Is one just better/more correct than the other or are they meaning two different things?

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    I advise you to wait at least 24 hours before accepting an answer. And since it's the weekend, perhaps more. – AmE speaker Oct 14 '17 at 14:21

'The literature' defines what literature is under consideration. Usually it would refer to professional journals containing learned papers under peer review. What exactly is defined, depends on who is talking.

A doctor referring to 'the literature' will mean The Lancet and suchlike periodicals. Whilst a chemist will be referring to Scientific American and associated publications which deal with Chemistry.

Whereas 'literature' refers to all literature available - books, periodicals and today would include, I suspect, what is generally available on the internet.

  • So a Doctor referring to 'the literature' will mean scientific literature and the same Doctor referring to 'literature' will mean literature in general, including everything from Cicero to Shakespeare and beyond? – MinecraftShamrock Oct 14 '17 at 11:20
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    Also, literature on its own refers to writings, typically the classics of English Literature. – Lawrence Oct 14 '17 at 11:21
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    Your capitalisation is still non-standard. – Edwin Ashworth Oct 14 '17 at 13:32
  • @EdwinAshworth Non-cap was due to finger trouble; now sorted. – Nigel J Oct 14 '17 at 14:11
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    No it's not. People proficient in chemistry are chemists, and doctors are no more venerable in the main than dentists. – Edwin Ashworth Oct 14 '17 at 21:27

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