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Writing a Literature Review


Phase 2: Finding Information

Tips on writing a literature review (in any subject).

Finding Lit Reviews

Finding Existing Literature Reviews
As literature reviews may already exist on some aspect of your topic, it is often useful to search databases for them. However, while many databases do not permit one to limit to the specific document type of literature reviews, some do. At any rate, it is usually a good idea when searching a database to enter the particular search term(s) in the first search box and then "literature review" (or the truncated "literature review*" that will retrieve "literature review" and "literature reviews") in the second search box. Here's an example from the database Business Source Complete:
Below are selected other databases that might be searched for literature reviews:

Annual Reviews
The database Annual Reviews provides access to a large number of collected critical review articles in Biomedical/Life Sciences, Physical Sciences and Social Sciences and is a valuable resource for locating literature reviews.

As many dissertations and theses have a specific literature review section, the database ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Full-Text is often worthwhile searching. Though one may not limit to the particular document type "literature review" in this database, one might search for the term literature review in, say, the abstract:

Moreover, many dissertations have a "literature review" chapter. In thge field of Education it is often the second chapter.

Some databases do indeed permit one to limit a search specifically to literature reviews. For example, when searching PsycINFO enter one's search term in the first search box and then scroll down to Methodology and choose the option Literature Review.
The education database ERIC has "Literature Reviews" as a subject heading. If, say, you are searching for an existing literature review on standardized tests, it might be productive to perform the following search in ERIC:

The nursing database CINAHL allows one to limit one's search to the Publication Type "Systematic Review":
Many of these Systematic Review hits will be traditional literature reviews.