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A literature review is a survey of research on a given topic. It allows you see what has already been written on a topic so that you can draw on that research in your own study. By seeing what has already been written on a topic you will also know how to distinguish your research and engage in an original area of inquiry.
Search across many disciplines and sources including articles, theses, books, abstracts and court opinions, from academic publishers, professional societies, online repositories, universities and other web sites.
Lists journal articles, books, preprints, and technical reports in many subject areas (though more specialized article databases may cover any given field more completely). Can be used with "Get it at UC" to access the full text of many articles.
Citations and summaries of journal articles, book chapters, books, dissertations, and technical reports. (Psychological Abstracts, Psychinfo) [1806 - current]
Indexes journals, conference proceedings, books, reports, and dissertations in psychology and enriched with literature from psychiatry, education, business, medicine, nursing, pharmacology, law, linguistics, and social work.
Search biomedical literature citations from MEDLINE, life science journals, and online books. [1950 - present]
Access to citations from MEDLINE, PreMEDLINE, other journals in the field of medicine and life sciences, and links to NCBI's integrated molecular biology databases including nucleotide sequences, protein sequences, 3-D protein structure data, population study data sets, and assemblies of complete genomes in an integrated system. Note: The link above goes to a specially configured version of PubMed for UC Berkeley users that will display the Get It button for full text access. To use the free public version, please click here.
Why do a Literature Review?
A literature review helps you explore the research that has come before you, to see how your research question has (or has not) already been addressed.
You will identify:
core research in the field
experts in the subject area
methodology you may want to use (or avoid)
gaps in knowledge -- or where your research would fit in
Search appropriate databases to identify articles on your topic.
Identify key publications in your area.
Search the web to identify relevant grey literature. (Grey literature is often found in the public sector and is not traditionally published like academic literature. It is often produced by research organizations.)
Scan article abstracts and summaries before reading the piece in full.