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Education (Graduate)

Literature Reviews: An Overview for Graduate Students

What is the purpose of a literature review?

Basic Literature Reviews:

-argue a position about the current state of knowledge on a topic 

-summarize and evaluate the existing knowledge on a particular topic

Advanced Literature Reviews:

-uncover a research problem for further study

-questions the current state of knowledge about a topic in order to define an area for new research

Machi, Lawrence A.  The Literature Review: Six Steps to Success.  Corwin Press, 2012. 

More Helpful Guides ....

For helpful information on writing a literature review, try these guides...

Literature Reviews for Education and Nursing Graduate Students  Authors: Linda Frederiksen, Sue F. Phelps
This open source textbook is designed for students in graduate-level nursing and education programs. Its intent is to recognize the significant role the literature review plays in the research process and to prepare students for the work that goes into writing one. Developed for new graduate students and novice researchers just entering into the work of a chosen discipline, each of the eight chapters covers a component of the literature review process.

Literature Reviews from University of North Carolina.

Academic Writing: Review of Literature (Writer's Handbook, Univ. Wisconsin, Madison)  A very brief description of the structure of a literature review is provided. Bulleted lists for the Introduction, Body and Conclusion are provided. The site does not offer assistance for the searching or writing process.

Literature Review Chapters & Books (Print & Online) Available via Library

How to find Literature Reviews in Education Article Databases

It is possible to find literature reviews using various article databases. Here are some tips for searching:

  • CBCA Complete - In Advanced Search, select "Literature Review" as a Document Type limiter.
  • ERIC via Proquest - add the subject heading "literature reviews" to your search.
  • Education Source - add the subject heading "literature reviews" to your search.

Sources for Literature Review Articles in Education Journals

Listed below are research journals in Education that specialize in publishing reviews of research literature on topics in education.  Lakehead University Library provides access to these journal titles, simply click on the title to access the issues:

Systematic and Scoping Reviews

This guide provides information and resources to aid researchers in conducting systematic and scoping reviews. Support available from librarians is also described.