What does this guide cover?
Writing the literature review is a long, complex process that requires you to use many different tools, resources, and skills.
This page provides links to the guides, tutorials, and webinars that can help you with all aspects of completing your literature review.
The Basic Process
These resources provide overviews of the entire literature review process. Start here if you are new to the literature review process.
The Role of the Literature Review
Your literature review gives your readers an understanding of the evolution of scholarly research on your topic.
In your literature review you will:
- survey the scholarly landscape
- provide a synthesis of the issues, trends, and concepts
- possibly provide some historical background
Review the literature in two ways:
- Section 1: reviews the literature for the Problem
- Section 3: reviews the literature for the Project
The literature review is NOT an annotated bibliography. Nor should it simply summarize the articles you've read. Literature reviews are organized thematically and demonstrate synthesis of the literature.
For more information, view the Library's short video on searching by themes:
Short Video: Research for the Literature Review
(4 min 10 sec) Recorded August 2019
Search for Literature
The iterative process of research:
- Find an article.
- Read the article and build new searches using keywords and names from the article.
- Mine the bibliography for other works.
- Use “cited by” searches to find more recent works that reference the article.
- Repeat steps 2-4 with the new articles you find.
These are the main skills and resources you will need in order to effectively search for literature on your topic:
Subject Research: Education
by Jon Allinder Last Updated Aug 7, 2023 1379 views this year
Keyword Searching: Finding Articles on Your Topic
by Lynn VanLeer Last Updated Sep 12, 2023 5813 views this year
by Jon Allinder Last Updated Aug 16, 2023 4333 views this year
Video: Education Databases and Doctoral Research Resources
(6 min 04 sec) Recorded April 2019
The literature review requires organizing a variety of information. The following resources will help you develop the organizational systems you'll need to be successful.
You can make your search log as simple or complex as you would like. It can be a table in a word document or an excel spread sheet. Here are two examples. The word document is a basic table where you can keep track of databases, search terms, limiters, results and comments. The Excel sheet is more complex and has additional sheets for notes, Google Scholar log; Journal Log, and Questions to ask the Librarian.
Beyond the Literature Review
The literature review isn't the only portion of a dissertation/project study that requires searching. The following resources can help you identify and utilize a theory, methodology, measurement instruments, or statistics.
Books and Articles about the Lit Review
The following articles and books outline the purpose of the literature review and offer advice for successfully completing one.