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COMM 300 - Principles of Communication: Literature Review: An Overview

The library guide supporting the Communication 300 Class: Principles of Communication

What's a Literature Review?

A Literature Review...

  • Provides comprehensive discussion of the scholarly research that has already been done on a topic.
  • Includes some summary of important articles on a topic.
  • Includes comparison: between how different authors discuss the same topic and how the topic has been handled over time.
  • Synthesizes previous ideas on a topic, but also looks for gaps in the literature: what needs to be investigated further?

What Should a Literature Review Do?

A Literature Review should...

  • Relate directly and clearly to your thesis or research question.
  • Synthesize and contextualize results, not just report them.
  • Identify areas of controversy in the literature.
  • Formulate questions that need further research.

Adapted from “The Literature Review: A Few Tips on Conducting It”, by Dena Taylor and Margaret Procter, University of Toronto: www.writing.utoronto.ca (file linked below)

Literature Review Search Strategies

Strategies for a literature review search...

  • Comb through bibliographies of relevant journal articles and books. You'll probably start to see patterns: authors, journals, and themes that show up over and over.
  • Find Full Text through the Library: If you find an article in a bibliography that you’d like to access, look for the journal name (not the article name), and follow the steps outlined under the Finding Full-text Material tab in our How to find Full Text Guide.
  • Can't get the article you need in full text through PSU? Don't Despair: Try Interlibrary Loan!
  • Find out who cited an article, and how many times it was cited, through Google Scholar. This will show you how influential an article was and gives you more articles and authors to investigate.
  • Learn How to Gut a Book -- in other words, how to get the most out of a book in the most efficient manner (i.e. it may not be necessary to read an entire book, word for word, taking diligent notes in order to get the gist of the book for use in a literature review).

Literature Reviews: An Overview for Graduate Students

This excellent overview of the literature review explains what a literature review and outlines processes and best practices for doing one. It includes input from an NCSU professor on what a literature review is and what it should do. (Shared under a CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 US license, attributed to North Carolina State University Libraries).

Google Scholar

Google Scholar has been customized by the PSU library to find some full-text articles at PSU !

Link to the PSU Google Scholar from this page  http://library.pdx.edu/research/

Google Scholar can be extremely helpful in finding out how many times an article has been cited and who cited an article. This can help you determine how important an article is and which other authors you may want to investigate.

Make sure you're checking your discipline's databases as well, for fuller, more complete scholarly coverage of the journal articles on your topic.