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Research in the Art LIbrary

A guide to arts-related resources and digital image collections for use in research and writing

Literature Review

What is a literature review?

A literature review discusses published information in a particular subject area, and sometimes information in a particular subject area within a certain time period.  A literature review can be part of an article or be the whole article, as those published in a Review Journal.  The literature review is part of an iterative process entered into before final selection of a dissertation topic, study, and research.  The steps include

An annotated bibliography, the analytical abstract of found sources to prove the thesis articulated in the draft thesis.  Search terms derived from the draft thesis are applied to appropriate databases and bibliographies to discover the universe of scholarly communication on a given topic.  Abstracts, i.e. annotations, are based on the critical analysis of the source's thesis, argument, and important findings.  Tagging can be an important part of creating an ontology for dissertation research.  

literature review takes abstracts and synthesizes their content.  It has an organizational pattern.  The review will give a new interpretation of old material or combine new with old interpretations. It traces the intellectual progression of the field, including major debates. A literature review may evaluate the sources and advise the reader on the most pertinent or relevant. The purpose of a literature review in doctoral study is two-fold: first to study and comprehensively understand a subject area, and second to demonstrate the need for a specific type and topic of research to add to human knowledge.

EndNote Basic

Cost: free while affiliated with UMD (Sign up)
Writing Plugins: Word
Browser Integration: bookmarklet; Firefox extension
Groups: Private only
Desktop Clients: None with Basic; paid desktop version
Apps: none

EndNote Basic (formerly EndNote Web) is the online-only version of EndNote, the popular desktop citation software. The desktop version is quite expensive, but EndNote Basic is free. EndNote Basic is good when you want a no-frills, entirely web-based citation management platform, but Zotero and Mendeley have more features.


Cost: free; no UMD-affiliated account needed
Writing Plugins: Word, Open Office
Browser Integration: bookmarklet, no extensions
Groups: Public or private
Desktop Clients: Windows, Mac, Linux
Apps: iOS

Mendeley is a citation management desktop client based primarily around the cultivation of PDFs. You can import PDFs, highlight and annotate them, get readership statistics, and even choose a folder on your computer for Mendeley to "watch" for new content. Mendeley also gives you the opportunity to search across papers cultivated by other Mendeley users.  Owned by Elsevier.