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POS 2510 Research Methods: Literature reviews and research questions

Guide to support Clark's Research Methods course.

Literature Reviews

A literature review (also called a research review or review of the literature) is a summary of existing research on a topic. It reviews the scholarly "literature" on that topic.  It is often a preliminary part of a publication where the author identifies and comments on the relevant previous research, but it can also be a stand-alone work. 

To find literature reviews articles, you can:

  • Add "literature review" OR "review of the literature" to your searches.

    Screencapture of Advanced Search with "Literature Review" OR "Review of the Literature" added as fields
  • See the suggested terms in OneSearch that pop up when you start typing literature review, like literature review or review of the literature or overview or systematic review or meta analysis

  • Use an Advanced Search in one of the library's databases that has journal articles.  An Advanced Search screen will often allow you to select "Literature Review" as a document type to filter your search (be sure not to select "Review", as that will only get you critical reviews of books, articles, movies, etc.)
    Screencapture of Advanced Search screen with Document Type options


‚ÄčPro tip: Use the Advanced Search feature to add the phrase literature n5 review* to your keyword(s). This search looks for the words literature, review, reviewer, reviews, reviewing within 5 words of each other in any order.

In an individual database, you can choose Literature Review as the Document Type in an Advanced Search, as in ProQuest Central:

Ferris, Dan, Ron Hayduk, Richards Alyscia, Emma Strauss Schubert, and Mary Acri. 2020. Noncitizen voting rights in the global era: A literature review and analysis. Journal of International Migration and Integration 21, (3) (09): 949-971, (accessed February 3, 2022).

David, E. J. R., Tiera M. Schroeder, and Jessicaanne Fernandez. 2019. “Internalized Racism: A Systematic Review of the Psychological Literature on Racism’s Most Insidious Consequence.” Journal of Social Issues 75 (4): 1057–86. doi:10.1111/josi.12350.

Research Questions