Skip to main content

SWK497 : Sexual Health Research Group

What is a Literature Review?

A literature review is a comprehensive look at literature/studies written about a particular topic or issue.  In a literature review, you will collect information about a topic, aquaint yourself with the major research and present a summary of your findings.  It is the common way that scholars gain knowledge on a topic or subject.   

Here are some links to advice on writing a literature review:

Tips for Conducting a Successful Literature Review

Use our Library's resources to find articles and books.  I think that when you look for narrow subject specific information that a narrow database yields the best results.  Once you get a good grasp at the narrow view, you can look to larger resources to supplement.

You can use resources like Google Scholar, but you are looking in a huge database of information.  You will find all kind of articles about drug use in Hispanic women for example, but many of the articles may be in social work, sociology, criminal justice or psychology journals.

Use a resource like Google Scholar to find out how many times an article has been cited.  Take the titles of your articles that you have found in the databases and search for your articles by title.  Here's an example from a result from Google Scholar.  Take note that this is from a Public Health journal.  It may not be a good resource for your assignment.  

Violence during pregnancy and substance use.- ajph.org [PDF]  - Full-Text @ NMSU
H Amaro, LE Fried, H Cabral, B Zuckerman - American Journal of Public Health, 1990 - Am Public Health Assoc
...When possible confounders were controlled using multivariable analyses, a woman's
alcohol use during pregnancy and her partner's drug use were independently ...
Cited by 410 - Related articles - All 8 versions

As you can see, underneath the citation is the "Cited by...." link.  Click on it and you will see all of the articles that have cited that article. This is a good way to gauge the importance of research and a great tool in finding relevant research.  Google Scholar also has a "Related Articles" link.  If you set "Scholar Preferences" next to the search box in Google Scholar, you will see what our library has Full Text.

We also have a database called "Web of Science"that does a similar job in finding works cited and works that cite an article.   Sometimes Google Scholar is a little more manageable.

One of the most important steps in doing a literature review is to scan the bibliographies of your important articles.  Look for the articles that are cited by more than one article that you have collected.  As you read your collected literature, you may see a study/article appear more than once in other research studies. Those often referenced articles are important!

Having trouble? Have a question?

If you need additional help, have a question, or would like to schedule a consultation with a librarian, please contact us using the information on the left side of this page.

Other Helpful Guides