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Writing a Literature Review in Social Sciences

Checklist for Literature Search

1) Understand what types of "literature" you need for your review

  • Academic books, scholarly journal articles, conference papers, theses or dissertations
  • Depending on the nature and focus of your research topic, you might also include:
    • Historical documents, policy documents, government publications, newspapers, professional (practitioner-oriented) books or magazine articles

2) Search most relevant databases in the topic field

  • Use keyword searching and other advanced techniques to retrieve relevant materials
  • Check Research Guides to the topic

3) Use citation databases (i.e., Web of Science) or Google Scholar for cited reference search 

  • Know how to chain citations 
  • Identify key authors and search for their publications

4) Create a log that documents how the literature search was conducted and what materials were read/scanned

Click here for step-by-step instructions (w/screen shots) on how to find:


Where To Go

Format Suggested Search Tools Note


FSU OneSearch Books at the FSU Libraries
Statewide Catalog search at FSU OneSearch Books at the Libraries from the State Universities of Florida. Request UBorrow to borrow the book.
WorldCat Books at the libraries around the world. Request an Interlibrary Loan to borrow the book


Google Scholar  
Article Databases Subject-specific databases
     E.g., Social Services Abstracts
Disciplinary databases
     (E.g., Social Sciences Full Text
Multidisciplinary databases
     E.g., Academic Search Complete or Web of Science
Database vendors
     E.g., EBSCOhost Databases, ProQuest Databases
Journal site Homepage of the journal
Journal Search e-Journals at the FSU Libraries
Social Science Research Network (SSRN) Working papers

Theses / Dissertations

ProQuest Dissertations & Theses (PQDT) database  
WorldCat Dissertations From the drop-down menu, select WordCatDissertations database
FSU Research Repository FSU Dissertations
FSU Dissertations (Electronic Theses or Dissertations since 2003)
Institutional Repositories Dissertations from other institutions


Google (or other search engines)  
FSU OneSearch
The Florida State University Libraries

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