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How to do a literature review

This guide will help you do a literature review as either a stand-alone project or as part of a dissertation, thesis, or other research project.

Choosing library databases

Many disciplines have a comprehensive bibliographic database that lists and organizes most of the literature in the discipline.

For example, if your discipline is education, your "go-to" database is ERIC (Educational Resources Information Center), which contains records for more than 1.5 million journal articles, conference papers, dissertations, and other documents on the topic of education. If your discipline is philosophy, your discipline's most important database is Philosopher's Index, which provides records for more than 600,000 philosophy papers and books published from 1902 to the present.

How can you find the comprehensive bibliographic database for your discipline?

Consult the Resources By Subject page. Important databases for each discipline are listed here.

Ask your librarian! On the OU Libraries website, you can find out which librarian specializes in your discipline.

What if your discipline doesn't have a comprehensive bibliographic database?

If you are researching an interdisciplinary topic, you might need to use databases from several different disciplines. For instance, if you are a Women's & Gender Studies student researching the challenges that transgender people face in accessing appropriate medical care, you might need to consult databases associated with the disciplines of medicine, psychology, and social work. Your librarian can give you advice about this.