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Education: Starting a Literature Review

An introduction to research in Education

What's a Literature Review?

  • Provides comprehensive discussion of the scholarly research that has already been done on a topic.
  • Includes some summary of important articles on a topic.
  • Includes comparison: between how different authors discuss the same topic and how the topic has been handled over time.
  • Synthesizes previous ideas on a topic, but also looks for gaps in the literature: what needs to be investigated further?

Writing a Literature Review

Female student about to begin a literature review

Literature Reviews: An Overview for Graduate Students from NSCU Libraries

Literature Review Search Strategies

  • Comb through bibliographies of relevant journal articles and books. You'll probably start to see patterns: authors, journals, and themes that show up over and over.
  • Find Full Text through the Library: If you find an article in a bibliography that you’d like to access, look for the journal name (not the article name), and follow the steps outlined under the Articles & Books tab of this guide.
  • Can't get the article you need in full text through Temple? Don't Despair: Try requesting the article via ILLiad.
  • Find out who cited an article, and how many times it was cited, through Google Scholar. This will show you how influential an article was and gives you more articles and authors to investigate.
  • Learn How to Gut a Book -- in other words, how to get the most out of a book in the most efficient manner (i.e. it may not be necessary to read an entire book, word for word, taking diligent notes in order to get the gist of the book for use in a literature review).

*adapted with permission from PSU libraries

Cited Reference Search

How many times has one of the articles you're using in your literature review been cited? The answer to that question can tell you not only how influential an article has been, but can lead you to more articles on your topic. Use the following to find out how many times the article you're using has been cited