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SOCI 121: Research Capstone

A guide to getting started with your research capstone project.

Literature Review

What is a literature review?

As you launch your own research project, you need to find out what other research has been done to date -- what is known and what is not known -- relating to the topic.  A literature review will include the works you consulted in order to understand and investigate your research problem.  A good literature review is not simply a summary of other research articles. The sources listed should be organized logically with the sources dealing with the same aspects of the topic grouped together.  You should also evaluate the sources, show the relationships among them and explain why they are important (or not) for your own research.  The resources on this page provide more information about literature reviews.

This video tutorial from North Carolina State University provides an overview of what a literature review is and is not as well as tips for getting started.

Literature Review Example

For an example of literature review, look at the first section of this peer reviewed article:

Hazelbaker, T., & Mistry, R. S. (2021). “Being colorblind is one of the worst things”: White teachers’ attitudes and ethnic‐racial socialization in a rural elementary school. Journal of Social Issues, 77(4), 1126–1148.

(To access it, you will likely be asked to login with your SCU credentials to prove you're a student with access rights.)

How to Find Others in the Conversation

1) Pearl growing approach

Citation pearl growing is the act of using one relevant source, or citation, to find more relevant sources on a topic. When you find one source that is a good match for your topic, look at its references, keywords, and themes to use in subsequent searches.

2) "Cited By"

Some databases of scholarly articles will include a "cited by" feature, to let you know who referenced that particular article *after* it was published. 

Literature Review Resources