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Education Literature Review: Education Literature Review

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:

  1. Find an article.
  2. Read the article and build new searches using keywords and names from the article.
  3. Mine the bibliography for other works.
  4. Use “cited by” searches to find more recent works that reference the article.
  5. 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:

  • Google Scholar
    Last Updated Aug 16, 2023 16175 views this year

Video: Education Databases and Doctoral Research Resources

(6 min 04 sec) Recorded April 2019

Staying Organized

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.  

Writing the Literature Review

The following resources created by the Writing Center and the Academic Skills Center support the writing process for the dissertation/project study. 

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.