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Michael Schwartz Library

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Michael Schwartz Library

SOC 695

Class resources

You will be conducting a literature review of the topics surrounding a research interest of yours. You will be finding at least 15 academic sources (scholarly books and peer reviewed articles). Keep in mind, a literature review is not simply a summary of 15 related articles that come up in a library search, but essentially a map of key research surrounding a specific issue or topic. Your map should be accurate and comprehensive. It serves to track the development of research in a specific area, and when combined with a research question and study as you will be conducting, it contextualizes and connect your study to others, defines key concepts and variables you will be using, and identifies gaps within the existing literature. When done in the correct order, a literature review helps you arrive at the appropriate research questions and helps you design a proper study. 

This is a good overview of what a literature review is and why we do them.

Make use of the many research databases and book collections accessible to you through the Michael Schwartz Library to find literature for your review.




Citation Mining

A large part of finding literature is reading backwards; identify key pieces of literature relevant to your topic that have been cited in the papers you already have found. If you keep seeing the same study or theory being cited, that's a good indicator that it should be included in your review as well (if it turns out to be relevant to your topic). 

Moreover, the number of times an article has been cited overall may be an indicator that its worth your attention. We care more about content than citation metrics, but if part of the literature review is mapping significant contributions to the field, this can be a useful approach. 

Use citation indexes to determine the number of times an article or book has been cited, and even see the literature that cites that work.





We must properly cite the work of others so that we give them credit for their scholarly contributions. However, we also include citations so that our readers can find the work and consult it themselves. To properly cite other's work, we include an abbreviated in-text citation, usually just an author's last name and year of publication, in the body of the text when we reference their work. The in-text citation points the reader to a reference or works cited entry, which includes more details about the cited work.

In the social sciences, we generally use APA format (American Psychological Association) or ASA (American Sociological Association to cite sources.

For APA guidelines and examples, look at the Online Writing Lab guide, or consult the APA 7th edition Handbook. This is another well organized guide.

For ASA guidelines and examples, consult the ASA website or this library's guide.

Managing Citations

You will want to use a citation manager to keep track of and organize the papers and books that you find. Citation managers will also usually aid you in making citations while you write; a very useful tool for staying in writing mode rather than citing mode! 

At CSU we support a free citation manager called Zotero. There is a complete guide on how Zotero can be used.