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Getting Started on a Literature Review
Literature Review Intro
A literature review surveys the relevant scholarly literature on a topic and includes sources such as scholarly articles, books, doctoral dissertations and conference proceedings. Depending on your topic, it may also include working papers and government reports. The literature review should highlight the most current, relevant and authoritative sources on your topic. It should identify the key elements of any debates current in the topic and show how the various sources and authors support the various sides of the debate.
- Formulate your question or problem and outline the specific issues you would like to address
- List the sources (usually databases) you plan to use in your literature search
- Understand the capabilies of your sources:
- Wildcard/truncation symbols
- How to construct searches (basic, advanced) & search connectors (and, or, not)
- Thesauri or other controlled vocabulary
- Special features like field searching in LexisNexis and classification codes in ABI/Inform
- Evaluate each item you find to see how well it addresses your questions or problems:
- Do the authors have appropriate backgrounds and credentials for the research they are conducting?
- What is the tone of the work and how objective is it?
- How well do the authors support and document their position?
- If there are competing theories or conclusions, which works contain the best and most convincing arguments and evidence?
- Analyze and synthesize your findings - how do the various works fit together and what conclusions can you draw?