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CCJ 4701 Research Methods

Literature Reviews & Empirical Research Articles

Literature Reviews

Literature reviews provide a synthesis of the scholarly literature related to a research question(s) or topic. They include a discussion of information reported by researchers in empirical journal articles along with your own analysis and evaluation of sources. Preparing a literature review is a two-step process that includes conducting literature searches to locate relevant empirical articles and your own analysis and synthesis of the research in the written review.

Keep in mind that there are various types of literature reviews. The most common are included as a section in an empirical research article, a chapter in a thesis or dissertation, a standalone literature review article, or a section in an academic paper.

  • Literature reviews in empirical research articles, theses and dissertations, or standalone review articles are considerably broader in scope and involve comprehensive literature searches.
  • Literature reviews in academic papers are narrower in scope and requirements are typically based on course assignments. Often, students are required to locate a certain number of empirical journal articles (research articles). Secondary sources (journal articles, books, book chapters, government reports, etc.) that often discuss empirical research or provide background information might also be included.

Academic Databases & Google Scholar

Empirical articles are published in peer-reviewed journals (sometimes called refereed), which means that articles are reviewed by experts in their field prior to publication to ensure that only reliable, high-quality information is published. Empirical journal articles for all disciplines are accessible by searching academic databases that are provided by the Libraries. The video below provides an example of how to locate Criminal Justice databases and search strategies to locate peer-reviewed research articles.

Google Scholar can also be helpful to use in combination with library database searches because it provides citations and links to empirical journal articles. Typically Google Scholar does not provide full text access to most articles. You must link to, but you can use the links provided to access the full text from the UCF Libraries pages. Google Scholar also does not include options to limit searches to view only peer-reviewed journal articles or filter options to refine searches.