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Conducting a Literature Review: Home

What is a Literature Review?

A literature review is a body of text that aims to review the critical points of current knowledge on a particular topic. Most often associated with science-oriented literature, such as a thesis, the literature review usually proceeds a research proposal, methodology and results section. Its ultimate goals is to bring the reader up to date with current literature on a topic and forms that basis for another goal, such as the justification for future research in the area. (retrieved from

Print Resources

Most print resources on research methodology include a chapter on literature review. Try these titles which are available in Catherwood:

  • The Handbook of Research Methods in Industrial and Organizational Psychology, HF5548.8 .H2653 2002

  • The Sage Encyclopedia of Social Science Research, H62 .L456 2004

Or these, available at other Cornell University libraries.

  • Integrating Research: A Guide for Literature Reviews, H62 .C78 1989, Olin Library

  • Writing the Winning Thesis or Dissertation: A Step-by-Step Guide, LB2369 .G56 2005, Mann Library

Related Guides


There are many resources available on the internet and in print to help you conduct a literature review. For graduate students working on a thesis, the most important resource is your graduate committee chair. Also, if you are an ILR student, don't forget to speak with one of Catherwood's reference librarians. They have subject matter expertise and can help you find research materials, as well as show you relevant databases and resources, including Zotero, an online bibliographic management system. Cornell students can also take advantage of the John S. Knight Institute for Writing in the Disciplines, which offers a walk-in tutoring Service.

Online Resources

Searching the Library Catalog

Guided Keyword Search from the Cornell University Library Catalog, using the terms "research methodology" or "qualitative research" will provide additional results, adding the term "social sciences" to the search will help narrow the results.

We also recommend you look through other theses. Often your graduate chair will have copies. To find the ILR theses housed in the Catherwood Library, browse or search the Cornell Theses and Dissertations by Academic Disciplines tool.

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