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Graduate Research: Theses & Dissertations: Literature Review

Literature Review: Set the stage for your research

A literature review for your thesis or dissertation project involves a more comprehensive review of existing scholarship than what you may be used to doing for classroom writing assignments.  It should provide a background of knowledge on which to build your research, incorporate relevant methods and theories, and identify gaps in existing research.  Be sure to explore a diversity of information resources to get started. 

Handouts about Literature Search & Review

Literature Review Advice

Collect References

Use of citation management software to collect reference records from library databases and other sources such as websites can aid in organizing, formatting and managing your citations during the writing phase.  Begin early in choosing and using a a citation management tool to gain efficiency in your research project.  Learn about some citation management tools (EndNote, Mendeley, Zotero, RefWorks) from the Research Guide link below: 

Citation Chaining

Citation chaining is the process of locating related works both forward and backward in time. Links to references cited in an original work take you backward in time. Links to "cited by" works take you forward in time from an original article to works that cite the original work. Citation chaining establishes an historical perspective or the progression of a topic or line of inquiry. Citation databases facilitate the process by providing linkages between academic articles.  

Getting Full Text

When you search any of the library's databases or use the QuickSearch box you may have to go through a few steps to find the full-text of the articles you need. If you don't see a direct link to the full text of the article, go through the following steps:


  • Click the "Find It@UW" button .  If a full-text copy is available, a link to the article will appear.
  • If no online copy is available, you may order the article by clicking the Interlibrary Loan button 

Search Google Scholar

Google Scholar Setup

Related Research Guides