Best practices: Conducting a literature review
Students are asked to conduct a literature review to identify and summarize previous research on a topic. The review may be a separate assignment or part of a major research project, thesis, or dissertation. Students will be required to write a paper that summarizes the existing research.
Students will gain experience in conducting a literature review and understand its importance as a foundation for a good research paper or project. They will gain familiarity with the research tools and methodologies in their major or discipline.
- Discuss the purpose and process of the literature review with your students.
- Help students identify the key resources for locating research in your field. Identify the major databases, key journals or other research tools that cover the subject area or discipline for their selected topic. Emphasize the importance of finding primary sources. Remind them that reference librarians can also help in identifying resources to search.
- Help students to analyze their topic and devise a research strategy. Make them aware of the interdisciplinary nature of many topics and the possible need to expand a search to the literature of other fields. Note the need to discover specialized vocabulary or terminology to use in constructing more effective searches in the bibliographic databases.
- Provide guidance as students organize and synthesize their findings in a written document. Discuss the difference between the literature review as a synthesis of research findings and the annotated bibliography which provides a descriptive listing of references.
- Cone, J. D & Foster, S. "Reviewing the literature." in Dissertations and theses from start to finish: psychology and related fields (pp. 93-117). Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association, c1993. [Available in Emerson Library Reference BF76.5 .C645 1993 ]
- Fink, Arlene. Conducting research literature reviews: from paper to the Internet. Thousand Oaks, Calif: Sage Publications, 2005. [Available in Emerson Library Q180.55 .M4 F56 2005]
- Hart, Chris. Doing a literature review: releasing the social science research imagination. London: Sage Publications, 1998. [Available in Emerson Library H62 .H2566 1998]
- Literature Review F.D. Bluford Library, North Carolina A & T State University http://libguides.library.ncat.edu/content.php?pid=122999&sid=1057126
- The Literature Review: A Few Tips on Conducting It. http://www.utoronto.ca/writing/litrev.html