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Public Health 190 (Payan): Literature Review Basics

Health Policy

What is a Review Article?

Review articles are an attempt to sum up the current state of the research on a particular topic. Ideally, the author searches for everything relevant to the topic, and then sorts it out into a coherent view of the “state of the art” as it now stands. Review Articles will teach you about::

  • the main people working in a field
  • recent major advances and discoveries
  • significant gaps in the research
  • current debates
  • ideas of where research might go next

Review Articles are virtual gold mines if you want to find out what the key articles are for a given topic. If you read and thoroughly digest a good review article, you should be able to “talk the talk” about a given topic. 

Source: University of Texas Libraries 

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Introduction to Literature Reviews

This video provides a basic and clear overview of what is a literature review, why do we write them, and what information they provide (UCLA Libraries, 3.21)

As you watch this video, take note of the steps required to complete a  literature review. 

Contact Elizabeth

Elizabeth Salmon

Research Services Librarian
Political Science & Sociology Liaison
Kolligian Library 275
(209) 631-6954

Literature Review Descriptions

"a written document that presents a logically argued case founded on a comprehensive understanding of the current state of knowledge about a topic of study. This case establishes a convincing thesis to answer the study"s question" (Machi & McEvoy, 2009, p 4).
"an interpretation of a selection of published and/or unpublished documents available from various sources on a specific topic that optimally involves summarization, analysis, evaluation, and synthesis of documents." (Onwuegbuzi et al., 2010, p. 173).

Machi, Lawrence A., and Brenda T. McEvoy. 2009. The literature review: six steps to success. Thousand Oaks, Calif: Corwin Press

Onwuegbuzie, A.J., Collins, K.M.T., Leech, N.L., Dellinger, A.B., & Jiao, Q.G. 2010. A meta-framework for conducting mixed research syntheses for stress and coping and beyond. In G.S. Gates, W.H. Gmelch, & M. Wolverton (Series Eds.) & K.M.T. Collins, A.J. Onwuegbuzie, & Q.G. Jiao (Vol. Eds.), Toward a broader understanding of stress and coping: Mixed methods approaches (pp. 169-212). The Research on Stress and Coping in Education. Series: Vol. 5. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing.