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Graduate Research

Literature Reviews

In general, planning a literature review for a graduate research project or course assignment involves locating and selecting high-quality sources and writing a review that includes an analysis of the selected sources. High-quality sources include research and secondary sources published in peer-reviewed (refereed) academic journals and other relevant sources. To select peer-reviewed sources to help frame your topic or research questions, you can search relevant databases and journals. Next, critically read and evaluate sources and synthesize them to write your review. Program and assignment requirements, discipline areas, and the purpose of the literature review you are writing (thesis, dissertation, or academic paper) all play a part in determining the scope of your review. Selected books and articles are included below to provide additional information about conducting literature searches and writing literature reviews.

For more information or questions, consider attending one of the Library & Literature Review Research workshops presented in the College of Graduate Studies Pathways to Success program each semester -- and/or contact the subject librarian assigned to your college or program for additional assistance.

Selected Reading

Burnett, J. (2009). Doing your social science dissertation. Sage. (eBook: SAGE Knowledge)

Cassuto, L. (2011, May 30). From Dissertation to Book," Chronicle of Higher Education [Blog post]. Advice from the Chronicle of Higher Education, including interviews with university press editors.

Clark, I. L. (2007). Writing the successful thesis and dissertation: Entering the conversation. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Feak, C. B., & Swales, J. M. (2009). Telling a research story: Writing a literature review. University of Michigan Press.

Galvan, J. L. (2013). Writing literature reviews: a guide for students of the social and behavioral sciences. Glendale, CA: Pyrczak.

Lovitts, B. E., & Wert, E. L. (2009). Developing quality dissertations in the social sciences: A graduate student’s guide to achieving excellence. Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing.

Ling, P. M., &  Lopez, M. (2008). Preparing literature reviews: Qualitative and quantitative approaches. Glendale, CA: Pyrczak.

Machi, L. A., & McEvoy, B. T. (2009). The literature review: Six steps to success. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Ridley D. (2008). The literature review: A step-by-step guide for students. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

Swales, J. M., & Feak, C. B. (2012). Academic writing for graduate students: Essential tasks and skills. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.‚Äč

Swetnam, D. (1997). Writing your dissertation: How to plan, prepare and present your work successfully. Oxford: How to Books. (eBook: Ebsco)

Thomas, R. M., & Brubaker, D. L. (2000). Theses and dissertations: A guide to planning, research, and writing. Westport, CT: Bergin & Garvey.