Literature review
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Literature Review. Agenda. What is a Literature Review? Literature Review Components. Key Databases. Internet as a Source of Info. What is a Literature Review?. Comprehensive collection of information based on a construct. Means of justifying a research question. What’s The Point?.

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Literature Review

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Literature Review


  • What is a Literature Review?

  • Literature Review Components.

  • Key Databases.

  • Internet as a Source of Info.

What is a Literature Review?

  • Comprehensive collection of information based on a construct.

  • Means of justifying a research question.

What’s The Point?

  • The current knowledge base.

  • Support for the question.

  • Questions still unanswered.

  • Opportunity for ideas.

  • Never complete – only a snapshot.

How Do I Start?

  • SPECIFY a topic of interest.

  • Easier to induct than deduct.

  • Ensures quality if using narrow focus.

Sources of Ideas

  • Common Sense – does the early bird truly get the worm?

  • Observations – the role of “serendipity” – Pavlov’s dogs.

  • Theories – Descriptions of “facts” that organize and explain phenomena.

  • Also generates new knowledge - additional hypotheses.

Sources of Ideas

  • PAST RESEARCH – theory/hypothesis generation based on past results.


  • Develop a listing of all words that could represent your construct:

  • “Cats” – cat, feline, kitten, Siamese, pets, animals

  • Also be sure to consider plural words and alternate spellings.

  • Orthopedic, orthopedics, orthopaedics

Where Do I Look?

  • Learn your databases – Pub Med, Current Contents Connect, Psych Info, etc.

  • Learn your journals – Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation, Journal of Applied Rehabilitation Counseling, Journal of Rehabilitation, Rehabilitation Counseling Bulletin, Rehabilitation Education, RehabPro, Rehabilitation Psychology, Journal of Counseling and Development, etc.

Where To Look

  • Meet your librarians.

  • Attend the FREE library classes offered throughout the semester.

  • Ask the professors and Ph.D. students.

Using The Databases

  • All databases are different in some shape or form – most upgrade regularly.

  • When first using, access the HELP or GUIDE option.

What Details?

  • Booleans – using the AND, OR, and NOT functions.

  • Truncation – using a portion of a word to locate all similar words.

  • Ex. – rehab*

  • Be careful though….

  • Ex. – ortho* could pick up orthopedics, orthodontics, orthodox

More Details

  • Nesting – the combination of Booleans and truncation

  • Example – (foot OR feet) AND diabet*

  • Phrase Searching – using quotations to find specific phrases – “functional impact of disability”

How Much Info Is Good Enough?

  • Depending on your topic’s specificity, the info you need to cover may vary.

  • Attempt to find the most recent literature available.

  • Again, a lit review is never complete.

The Databases

  • Focus on Pub Med and Current Contents Connect (CCC).

  • The number of databases that will provide info specifically for your topic of interest will vary on subject matter.


  • Full-text articles via the library web site.

  • HTML and PDF format – it is advisable to select PDF format if given the option.

  • Not every journal is available in full-text, which means we still have to go to the library sometimes.


Pub Med

  • Pub Med (formerly MedLine) – difficult but comprehensive.

  • Lots of bells and whistles.



  • Current Contents Connect – most up-to-date.

  • Also connected to Web of Science and the Journal Citation Report.


Reference Manager

  • Not a database, but can be used while searching Pub Med.

  • Creation of reference pages by entering each source in APA format for you.

  • Unfortunately, the software is costly and it’s best to find someone who has it already.


Accessing The Internet

Research Implications

Web Searching

  • Using the Internet to educate/research.

  • Five major issues need to be addressed when using web sources for research.


  • How valid is the information – was it done by a professional in the field or by someone with Netscape Composer?


  • What are the author’s qualification for providing the information?


  • Was there bias and/or persuasion in the information?


  • Is the information still accurate or up-to-date as it may (or may not say) it is?


  • Great info or does it scratch the surface of the topic – is this good stuff or filler?

Web Site Reliability Resources

  • When in doubt, use the following sites to offer assistance in determining reliability:



Sounds Too Risky…

  • Validity and reliability threats – seek PEER-REVIEWED journal articles.

  • Critiqued for weaknesses prior to publishing – in theory provides best info.

  • Consider journal rating.

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