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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 listed below each database.

  • Enter topic terms in the first search box.
  • In the second box, enter "literature reviews" and change the Select a Field option to “SU Subject Terms”
  • Under Search Options, check the box for Scholarly (Peer Reviewed) Journals.
  • Selecting "Bibliography" under Document Type may or may not be helpful depending on the topic.
  • Enter search terms and add: “literature review” or “review of literature” in second search box
  • Check the box for Scholarly (Peer Reviewed) Journals
  • Enter your search terms.
  • Under Search Options > Publication Type, select "Systematic Review."
  • Enter search terms and add: “literature review” or “review of literature” in second search box
  • Limit to Scholarly (Peer Reviewed) Journals
  • Enter search terms in the first box.
  • In the second box, enter "literature reviews” and change the Select a Field option to "SU Descriptors (All)"
  • Under Search Options > Journal or Document, select "Journal Articles."

Can also try Eric Digests, which are brief, 3-5 page, full text articles that describe the current state of an issue. They provide a bibliography, but do not evaluate the pros and cons of the studies cited.

  • Enter search terms and under Search Options > Publication Type, select "ERIC Digests in Full Text."
  • Enter your search terms
  • Under Search Options > Publication Type, select "Review."
  • Enter search terms
  • Under Search Options, Methodology, select "Literature Review"
  • Enter search terms and add: “literature review” or “review of literature” in second search box
  • May also Limit to Scholarly (Peer Reviewed) Journals

 

The following databases do not have options to limit results to literature reviews:

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