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Get Started with Research

An overview of the research process in college courses: Develop a topic, learn search strategies, evaluate sources, cite sources, etc.

Steps to a successful literature review

A literature review is ... a careful examination of the literature pertaining to your specific research question or study. It highlights gaps in the field and addresses how your thesis fills those gaps.

A literature review is not ... a summary of the items you have found during your search, or an annotated bibliography. It is generally not an historical review of all of the literature in your specific area.

Remember, literature reviews are iterative, not linear, so you'll most likely find yourself revisiting each of these steps multiple times as you complete your literature review.

Click on the steps below for more information.

Step 1. Define your project.

Step 2. Do preliminary research.

Step 3. Refine your focus and take a deeper dive into the research.

Step 4. Group and synthesize the literature.

Step 5. Place the literature in context as you write the chapter.


Reid, M., Taylor, A., Turner, J. & Shahabudin, K. (n.d.). University of Reading Study Advice team & LearnHigher CETL (Reading). Starting a literature reviewUndertaking a literature reviewDeveloping your literature review.

Teaching and Educational Development Institute of the University of Queensland for the Queensland Higher Education Staff Development Consortium. (1997). Making sense of the literature.

Bibliography and Handouts

Consult the following sites for additional information about literature reviews.

Use these handouts to organize your keywords and track your research.