UCB Libraries

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Writing 3030: Writing in Science and Society

The Literature Review Process

Fall 2013



Alison Graber,alison.graber@colorado.edu

Rebecca Kuglitsch, rebecca.kuglitsch@colorado.edu or book an appointment

Need immediate research assistance? Stop by the Norlin Research Desk, call 303-492-7521, use one of our Ask Us services (including IM!), or try our extensive How do I... series. For help with writing, be sure to check out the Writing Center, too!


  • Literature Review Process
  • Find Articles
  • Find Full Text
  • Citing and References

Writing a review of the literature is a process that will be much smoother if you can start with a clear idea of your topic and stay organized throughout. Work through the Prezi below to find tips, tools, and tricks that will help you.



For performing a literature review in your areas of research, there are some general resources that are likely to be good starting points


  • Web of Science or Web of Knowledge
    Web of Science indexes the top tier journals (highest impact)in many fields, so it is an ideal starting point for scientific scholarly research.
  • Annual Reviews
    A good place to find example review articles and use review articles to get get a quick picture of the literature.
  • Academic Search Premier
    This multi-disciplinary database has good coverage of the sciences, especially of popular science content. It's a good starting point for broad research across science & ethics.
  • Google Scholar
    Broadly searches the scholarly literature. It works best after you've developed a very specific question.

You'll also want to look at article databases that focus on the discipline you're investigating. For example, if you're looking at medical ethics, you'll want to search medical databases as well as general databases. Below you'll find a few that may be especially helpful, but you'll find even more arranged by subject at the Find Articles page, so explore based on your discipline of interest.


Are you off campus?

From the library homepage, look at the right hand Quick Links menu and select Off-Campus Access (VPN), and follow OIT's instructions to install the VPN. You'll get the most consistently good results with Network Connect rather than the Web VPN. If you need help, contact OIT (303-735-HELP).


Finding Articles that are owned by CU

  • If you're in a database, look for the 'Find it at CU' logo button. Just click the button, and a new page will open, letting you know if we have the article online or in print. If we don't there is a direct link to the interlibrary loan form.
  • If you have an article citation from a book or paper, enter the citation details into the Article Finder. Or simply search the title of the journal in Chinook, check whether we have the dates you need, and keep browsing down to the article you'd like.
  • PASCAL (CU’s off-site storage facility in Denver)
    If you're looking for a journal articles in print and it's in PASCAL, we'll scan and send the article to you on 24 hour turn around. Scanned copies should be under 50 pages.

Finding Articles and Books not owned by CU


Use Interlibrary Loan.
This service is free of charge. PDFs of articles are sent to your email address. You can also request books that we don’t own through Prospector and Interlibrary Loan.

  • ILLiad
    Traditional borrowing from other institutions, 2 week or less delivery of copies (paper or electronic) of articles, dissertations, books, etc., are sent at no cost to you.
  • Prospector
    This is your best first choice for borrowing books CU doesn't own. Prospector requests usually arrive in 3-5 days.


When do I cite?!

The library's How do I Cite page is a good place to start. It gives general guide lines for when to cite.


Isn't there something electronic that will make citing easier?


The library supports several tools that will help you manage your literature research, cite, and create bibliographies really efficiently.


  • RefWorks: an online cloud-based tool to create personalized folders of citations from which you can create bibliographies & format papers in hundreds of different citation styles in seconds.
  • Zotero: an open source tool that works as a plugin with Firefox. Your folders of citations exist on your computer, and you can back them up to the internet cloud. Quickly creates bibliographies and formats papers in many citations styles.


No matter what tool you use, always check with your instructor about which citation style they want you to use!