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If You Are New to Research
What is the "Literature"?
What is the "Literature"?
The "literature" is the body of scholarly work in any given field.
What is a Literature Review?
A literature review surveys scholarly articles, books, dissertations, and conference proceedings relevant to your research problem, providing a description, summary, and critical evaluation of each work.
Purpose of the literature review:
- Provides a historical background for your research problem
- Describes its current status
- Supports the purpose of the study
- Identifies gaps in the literature
- Become aware of variables relevant to the problem
- Understand the seminal studies widely cited
- Identifies the leading scholars relevant to the problem
Things to Know
Three important things to know about research
- Start early: the library has thousands of books and articles
online. If we don’t have what you need, we will get it for you, but this process takes about a week.
- Be prepared: bring a flash drive with you always so you can
save what you find, OR use a citation manager.
- Take notes about how you found your results! Maybe keep a
Literature Reviews vs. Original Research
Nearly every scholarly research article begins with a brief, basic review of existing literature. This review introduces the subject being investigated and what is already known about it, in order to provide context for the author's new research.
Check the "Introduction" section of this original research article for an example:
There is also a whole category of scholarly articles known as literature reviews. (Generally, these will use words like "Literature Review," "Review," or "Review of the Literature" right in the title.) These articles do not conduct new research, but only review existing research on some subject, in order to summarize the current state of knowledge and help other researchers exploring the same topic.
An example of a Literature Review article:
Ask Your Instructor
If you have any of these questions
How far back should you look?
How many sources should you have?
What kinds of sources should you use?
Ask your instructor! Different departments have different requirements.
Databases by Subject
The library has nearly 100 databases. Use this page to see the databases that are most appropriate for your subject.
Library Catalog (OneSearch: Books & Media CSUSB)
The library catalog lists everything in the library's collection. It will tell you the floor location and the call number.
Use this tool to find out if the library has the journal you need. You'll need at least the journal name and the year.