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Writing a Literature Review: Finding Reviews of the Literature

A guide to organizing and writing a review of the literature.

Using Databases to Find Literature Reviews

Most of the specialized databases will have scholarly articles that are either Literature Reviews or have a review of the literature as an introduction to the research.
Keys to finding them are:

Academic Search Complete

  • LITERATURE reviews is a Subject Heading – change in Select a Field (optional) to in “SU Subject Terms”
  • Select Scholarly (Peer Reviewed) Journals
  • Document Type Bibliography may or may not be helpful depending on topic of interest

Business Source Complete

  • Enter topic search terms and add: “literature review” or “review of literature” in second search box
  • Limit to Scholarly (Peer Reviewed) Journals

CINAHL Plus with Full Text (Nursing)

  • Select Systematic Review as a Publication Type and combine with terms for your topic

Communication & Mass Media Complete

  • Enter topic search terms and add: “literature review” or “review of literature” in second search box
  • Limit to Scholarly (Peer Reviewed) Journals

ERIC – Education

  • "Literature Reviews” is a descriptor – search in SU Descriptors (All) and combine with search terms on your topic - Limit to Journal Articles
  • Eric Digests are brief, 3-5 page, full text articles that describes the current state of an issue and provide a bibliography, but does not evaluate the pros and cons of the studies cited.
  • Search for your topic and limit Publication Type to:ERIC Digests in Full Text

MEDLINE with Full Text

  • Select Review as a Publication Type and combine with terms for your topic

ProQuest Research Library

  • Select Document Type: Literature Review and combine with your topic search terms
  • Also try search terms and add: “literature review” or “review of literature” in second search box; gets “feature” articles or other types that are literature reviews
  • Limit to Scholarly (Peer Reviewed) Journals

PsycINFO

  • PsycInfo uses Literature Review as a Form/Content Type
  • In EBSCO Select Methodology: Literature Review and combine with terms for your topic
  • Publication Type – Review has book, software, etc. reviews

SocINDEX with Full Text

  • Enter topic search terms and add: “literature review” or “review of literature” in second search box
  • May also Limit to Scholarly (Peer Reviewed) Journals

MLA International Bibliography (Languages & Literatures)
RILM Abstracts of Music Literature
ATLA (Religion)

  • No option to limit results to literature reviews