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Sources for S-530: Mapping Out and Writing a Critical Literature Review

This guide provides selected resources to assist in the literature review process and to search for literature relevant to your research questions.

Sources for Sample Literature Reviews

Review of Educational Research (Print:Per. L11 .R35)
Each issue of this quarterly journal contains critical reviews of current research in the field of education.

Review of Research in Education (Print:LB1028.R43)
Each volume of this annual publication concentrates on research in one or two related areas of education.

For additional sample reviews, search article indexes for topic keywords and the phrase "literature reviews." See a sample search from ERIC. [Note that "literature reviews" is a subject heading in ERIC, but should be searched as a keyword phrase in many other indexes.]

To search for qualifying papers in HOLLIS Classic, use the "Expanded Search" link and enter relevant keywords and the phrase "qualifying paper" in the search boxes. See a sample search in HOLLIS Classic.

Selected Manuals and Guides

Available in print at Gutman:

Cooper, H. Synthesizing research: A guide for literature reviews. (H62.C5859 1998)
Fink, A. Conducting research literature reviews: From paper to internet. (Q180.55.M4 F56 2005)
Galvan, J.L. Writing literature reviews: A guide for students of the social and behavioral sciences. (H61.8.G34 2006)
Hart, C. Doing a literature review: Releasing the social science imagination. (H62.H2566 1998)

Available online:

Literature Reviews LibGuide (University of Melbourne)

The Literature Review: A Few Tips on Conducting It (University of Toronto)

Researching and Writing Literature Reviews (University of Arizona)

Review of Literature (Writing Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison)

Some Guidance on Doing a Literature Review (57KB pdf) (Prepared by Richard Elmore and used with his permission)

On the importance of the literature review:

Boote, D.N., & Beile, P. (2005). Scholars before researchers: On the centrality of the dissertation literature review in research preparation. Educational Researcher, 34(6), 3-15.

Finding Books

Use HOLLIS Classic to find books, journals, manuscripts, government documents, visual materials, data files, and more owned by the Harvard University Libraries. Note that while HOLLIS includes journal titles, it does not index the articles within them. Information on Finding Articles.

To research a topic in HOLLIS, use the "Expanded Search" link and enter relevant keywords in the search boxes. Be sure to enclose phrases (e.g. "school superintendents") in quotation marks or click the "two-word phrase" radio button. Once you find a relevant book, click on its subject headings (located in the field labeled "Subject") to get a list of other works on this topic. Note that sometimes you may need to search a broader subject term combined with a more specialized subject term (e.g. "asian americans" OR "vietnamese americans") for comprehensive results.

To search beyond Harvard's collections, use WorldCat. WorldCat contains over 47 million records for books, journals, dissertations, and more owned by over 40,000 libraries (including Harvard). Information on Accessing Books and Articles not Available at Harvard.

Finding Articles

Use the following indexes to find scholarly journal articles and more by topic or author:

  • Education Articles (3-in-1 Search) -- ERIC, Education Abstracts, and Academic Search Premier

  • Academic Search Premier -- Multidisciplinary; covers about 4,700 journals and magazines

  • America: History and Life -- Covers over 2,000 journals on the history of the United States and Canada

  • Education Abstracts* -- Covers around 525 English-language education journals and yearbooks from 1983+

  • ERIC* -- Covers over 800 education-related journals, as well as conference papers, research reports, state, federal, and local education documents, and selected books

  • Historical Abstracts -- Indexes about 2,000 journals providing historical coverage of the world from 1450 to the present (excluding the United States and Canada)

  • JSTOR -- Covers more than 500 core scholarly journals from their first issues, but generally excludes the most recent five years

  • Linguistics and Language Behavior Abstracts -- Indexes over 1,200 journals in all areas of language and linguistics; international in scope; includes books and book chapters.

  • PsycINFO -- Covers over 1,800 psychology journals and dissertations in more than 24 languages; also includes book chapters and books in the English language

  • Social Sciences Citation Index (Web of Science) -- Covers more than 1,725 journals across 50 social sciences disciplines. Use the Cited Reference Search option to find articles that cite a previously published work.

  • Sociological Abstracts -- Covers more than 2,000 sociology-related journals; also covers selected books, dissertations, conference papers, and book reviews.

*Primary education indexes.

Exemplary Qualifying Paper and Dissertation Proposals

Visit the ed.d. site on MyGSE to view model qualifying paper and dissertation proposals.

Finding Dissertations

Dissertations and Theses Full Text (ProQuest) describes dissertations and masters' theses in all areas of academic research at most North American and many European universities. Provides full-text access, including literature review chapters, to most dissertations written from 1990 onwards.

Using Google, Google Scholar, and Google Book

Use Google (and other search engines) to search the open web for current government publications, academic working papers, association newsletters, conference proceedings, curriculum materials, and more. Google Scholar will find citations to scholarly articles, papers, and books, but it offers only a small fraction of what is available through library resources. Google Book Search allows users to search the full text of all books available in Google Book Search (whether contributed by Harvard, another library, or the publisher), with a Find at Harvard University link displayed on every item in a search result set. See A Scholarly Guide to Google for tips.

Associations and Organizations

See Gutman's links to Education Associations, Organizations, and Conferences for a selected list.

Finding Full Text of a Specific Article

Use Citation Linker to locate online or print access for a specific article.

Accessing Books and Articles not Available at Harvard

Request books and photocopies of articles not owned by Harvard via interlibrary loan.

Dissertation Consultations

Work with a librarian throughout the dissertation process to:

  • organize the research process
  • develop research strategies
  • plan a literature review
  • identify and learn to use relevant sources
  • obtain research materials worldwide
    To arrange a consultation, contact the Reference Desk (617-495-3421/617-495-3422) or a Research and Instruction Services staff member.

Writing Consultations

Make an appointment with a writing coach to:

  • define a research question
  • organize the content of your paper
  • review and revise drafts
  • cite sources appropriately

Sign up for a writing consultation.

Research Methods Consultations

Make an appointment with a research methods staff member for assistance with:

  • research design
  • quantitative and qualitative analysis
  • presenting findings

View staff list and e-mail to schedule a research methods consultation.

For additional information or assistance, contact Gutman Library Research and Instruction Services (617-495-3421/3422 or reference@gse.harvard.edu) or stop by the Gutman Reference Desk.

Guide last updated: October 5, 2010