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GradTrack is a service offered by the Evans Library to support Florida Tech graduate students.

Starting the Literature Review

Typically, a literature review involves the following steps:

  • Select a research topic - A general starting point is crucial, but you will refine your research question as you discover potential problems to be solved or questions to answer. Summon and Google Scholar are excellent tools for basic searching, and your early results can provide keywords, subject terms, and other language that you can add to modified searches.

  • Search the literature - Choose pertinent databases from the library's A to Z Databases, and retrieve the articles and information that represent seminal research in your discipline, current research being done, and related research in your field or other fields. Pay attention to article bibliographies, which often provide many more relevant articles. Be sure to document your searches and save your citations to RefWorks or another citation management tool like Mendeley.

  • Share with your advisor - When you have collected all relevant articles, share your bibliography with your advisor, who can determine areas needing further support, or branches of relevant research that you had not thought about.

  • Read and analyze - This step encompasses a few parts: initial overview of abstracts and summaries to determine subject areas or subtopics of the research; critical readings to determine relevance to your research question; and analysis of the research that includes writing a very brief note summarizing the key points and contributions of each paper. Notes can be added to RefWorks or Mendeley and shared with your advisor.

  • Write the review - The review is written as a critical evaluation which thoroughly communicates not just an overview of the subject matter, but more importantly the connections among the literature and your understanding of its relevance. 

  • Include a bibliography - The literature review should include citations for each of the works discussed. RefWorks or Mendeley is your friend here, as your lengthy list of citations can be formatted automatically in the style of your choice.

For further reading

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

Pautasso, M. Ten simple rules for writing a literature review. Ed. Philip E. Bourne. PLoS Computational Biology 9.7 (2013): e1003149.

Using Library Resources for Literature Review

Start your search: 

  • Summon - Start your search of the literature with Summon.  Summon  searches all the library's multidisciplinary databases and some subject-specific databases simultaneously.  You can limit to peer-reviewed or scholarly journals, or expand your search to other libraries' collection. To learn more about Summon, look at this research guide:  How to use Summon   

  • Google Scholar - Find Florida Tech journal articles and books in Google Scholar by configuring preferences in Google Scholar.  For instructions, view this video from NCSU libraries. (Note: Under Settings/Library links, check off all with Florida Institute of Technology.)  After doing this, whenever you do a search in Google Scholar, click on "Find @ Florida Tech" for direct access to articles from our licensed databases.

Refine your search:

Save your references/citations:

  • RefWorks - Use this online citation manager to store and organize your citations/references, and to create bibliographies in various formats. See the RefWorks research guide for details.

  • Mendeley - View this quick introduction to this online/desktop citation manager.

Advanced searching techniques:

 Effective, efficient searches retrieve the items that are most closely matched to the research concept, reducing the time that you will have to spend evaluating the results.

  • Web of Science and Scopus -  Use these "citation" databases to find a record of citations/references an author has used in his/her article or book. These databases list the publications that cite the author and give in alphabetical order other authors also cited.  By examining who has been cited you can quickly build up a picture of the main contributors to knowledge on your topic, and what resources (journals, articles, books) are best to use.

  • Library Catalog - search for print copies of all Florida Tech's Theses and Dissertations. Example of search: Florida Institute of Technology and thesis and psychology

  • Global Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Search - search approximately 4 million theses from more than 200 universities worldwide.

  • PQDT Open - provides the full text of open access dissertations and theses free of charge. Note: the authors of these dissertations and theses have opted to publish as open access.

Finding material not in our collection