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Communication Sciences & Disorders

Journal Articles | Background | Books & Videos | Tests, Etc.


Comprehensive Literature Review Search Strategy  

Preparing a comprehensive literature review on a topic can involve searching many different types of information. A search strategy is an organized plan for gathering information. Try using the following search strategy and guides to listed resources for your literature review.

  1. Choose a topic that interests you. Ask yourself some basic "who, what, when, where, how and why" questions about your topic, including any pre-conceived knowledge you might have about it. Depending on various factors (ex: availability and use of different types of resources, research deadline, etc.), you may need to revise and/or repeat portions of the following process more than once.

  2. Identify the main concepts of your topic and generate a list of search terms and subject headings for each. Use these search terms to search the topic in reference books; LEO and other databases.

  3. Begin with a textbook and/or types of reference sources such as those listed below to define the topic, develop an overview about it and locate bibliographies with citations to additional resources.

    For: Dictionaries
    Encyclopedias (incl. any bibliographies following articles)
    Bibliographies (separately published)
    Use JMU-Owned Books, etc.: CSD Reference Bibliography  (Annotated Version: Ref. RC423 .A52 1996).  Updated version on the web.
    Use Web Sources: Background

  4. Search LEO to find print and non-print materials owned by Carrier and Rose Libraries: Determine database search strategy and conduct your search: Search by author, title or subject (using LCSH subject heading thesaurus); or use boolean search operators (AND, OR) to combine subject heading terms and keywords. Also, search other online catalogs as well. Use Interlibrary Loan as needed.

    For: Books (reference, textbooks, scholarly texts, other)
    Local Theses/Dissertations
    Audio-Visuals, Multi-Media, Kits (diagnostic tests)
    Use: Books & Videos

  5. Locate research databases such as periodical index/abstract databases that list useful journal articles and other reports, etc. on your topic.  Determine database search strategy and conduct your search: Combine descriptor (subject heading) terms from the database thesaurus, if available, and keywords using boolean search operators (AND, OR, NOT).   Note that most databases provide access to online FULL-TEXTS, i.e., electronic journals.

    For: Journal Articles
    Research/Technical Reports
    Conference Papers
    Unpublished Documents
    Use: CSD Research Databases

  6. While searching your database, look for the Link Finder Plus andarticledelivery icons to have your article delivered to you free, via e-mail.   You can also use Periodical Locator if you already have your citation.   Enter the journal title (not article title) to determine whether it is available at Carrier Library or can be accessed electronically.   Use the icons shown above to receive your article.

  7. Search other more specialized resources, as appropriate. 


    Web Guides
    Government Resources

    Grants & Employment
    Images (Anatomy)
    Organization Sites (online resources only)
    Pharmaceutical Info.
    Research Reviews

    Use JMU-Owned Books, etc.: CSD Reference Bibliography (Annotated Version: Ref. RC423 .A52 1996).  Updated version on the web.
    Use Web Sources: More Resources:

  8. Evaluate your sources periodically throughout the research process. Refocus/revise the topic and information search strategy as needed. (See Evaluating Sources of Information) carefully, especially information you find on the Internet.

  9. Outline what you want to say in your paper and start writing. Revise as needed.


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Stefanie Warlick

Stefanie Warlick


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This page last reviewed by S. Warlick on 10/25/2011
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