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Sociology: Literature Review

This guide is intended to help Moorpark College students learn about a variety of resources for conducting research in sociology

What is a literature review?

A literature review describes what research has already been published in a particular subject area. It summarizes and synthesizes the arguments and ideas of others without adding new contributions.

One of the hardest parts of working on the literature review is to recognize how work written by other researchers in the discipline relates to your topic.


Where should I start?

Literature reviews provide you with a  guide and a solid background for a particular topic.

Start with the library databases in your library and look for key authors and articles in the field and on your subject. Use JSTOR and EBSCO Social Sciences Full Text. These databases will help you find relevant articles to your research. Other databases may be useful. Be sure to ask the reference librarian for help. He or she would be happy to help you out.

Before writing the literature review...

Be sure to ask your professor the following questions:

  • How many sources do I need to include?
  • What types of sources (books, journal articles, magazines, Internet sites) do I need?
  • Do I need to summarize or critique my sources?
  • Do I need you evaluate my sources?

Helpful hints

--Look for other literature reviews in your subject area to get a sense of the types of themes you might want to look for in your own research.

--Start with the abstract introduction and discussion in the databases. The abstracts should help you identify the significance of the research and how it relates to your research project.

--Use the bibliography or reference list of sources. These are excellent starting points and will lead you to other relevant articles.



Adapted from the The Writing Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2013.