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How to Conduct a Literature Review: A Guide for Graduate Students

This is a guide to help graduate students successfully find, evaluate, and manage resources for a literature review.

Where to Search

Once you have a topic in mind and you've got an idea about a search strategy, the next step is to do some searching. Before you go off and spend all your time searching Google, take a look at the hundreds of information resources purchased by the Library:

Disciplinary Journal Databases

The Library's Article Indexes and Databases page lists over 100 indexes to journal literature across all disciplines.  Academic Search Complete, is an example of general periodical index, while GeoRef, focuses specifically on literature in the geosciences. There are a couple of reasons to use the articles indexes available through the library:

  • Much of the information in them is not available elsewhere
  • The resources have been selected because they are the best at finding literature on a particular topic

Citation Databases

There's another kind of article database available through the library - citation databases. These include Scopus, Web of Science, and Google Scholar. One of the main uses for these database is cited reference searching. This is the ability to search for a specific citation in the list of references (or footnotes) found in journal articles or books. See the Citation Chains tab for more information.