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LCST 3301: Justice and the Developing World (Jones & Vásquez)

Latin American and Caribbean Studies, Spring 2017

Literature Reviews

What is a Literature Review?

A literature review presents to your readers the existing scholarly conversation about the topic(s) relevant to your research project.  These reviews contextualize your project and demonstrate how it contributes to that conversation  For more detailed explanations, see the following:

  • Writing the Literature Review: Parts One, Two, and Three (YouTube video introduction by David Taylor from the University of Maryland)

Review Articles

Review articles are a type of journal article that surveys the literature on a give topic or time period.  These can help you with the research for your own literature review.  Keep in mind that there isn't necessarily an existing literature review for every topic.  Even when one exists, you'll still need to update it, assess it for gaps, and synthesize it with your review of other topics and sub-topics relevant to your work.

Latin American Research Review and Annual Reviews are good sources for review articles.  You can also find review articles in other databases, usually by adding to your search terms words like "review" OR "literature review" OR survey (limited to title field).  Be careful not to confuse book reviews for review articles or literature reviews.  Book reviews examine a particular book, whereas literature reviews survey a body of scholarship.  To eliminate book reviews from your searches, exclude (if possible) filters called "reviews."  You can also try to limit your search to "journal articles" OR "scholarly articles."

Other Sources (Books & Dissertations)

Dissertations and theses—while not peer-reviewed sources like journal articles—are good sources for finding literature reviews on specific subjects.  Dissertation writers are usually required to include literature reviews; you can exploit these same literature reviews to help you with your research.

Many academic monographs (books) also include a literature review or have introductions that give a broad overview of the scholarship on specific topics.  See the "Finding Books" page for more information on how to find books within the Libraries' collections and beyond.

Reference Material

Reference sources provide brief topic overviews and often short curated bibliographies.