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LIBRARY

ACAP Library Pathfinder: Literature Review

Learn about the process of searching, choosing, recording and evaluating information for writing a literature review.

Types of Literature

Your research question or thesis statement will inform the types of literature that will best suit the review. There are many different types literature and they come from a variety of sources. The resources described below provide you with a general outline of the types of literature available via the library. Go to the Choosing Resources page in the Information Skills guide to learn more about where and how to find these resources in the library and on the internet.

Research Literature

Some edited books, journal articles, theses and government publications will employ research paradigms and methodologies to support a hypothesis. Methodologies can be broadly categorised as longitudinal, qualitative or quantitative. Many of these publications are peer-reviewed, meaning they have been checked by a panel of experts before publication. Most library databases offer a peer-reviewed checkbox which will filter search results in this way. They will also allow you to filter results according to research methodology, focus group, geographical location and much more. Research literature is an essential component of your literature review.

Theory-based Literature

Literature that is informed and tested by research, these books, articles and reference sources will attempt to explain, describe, define and provide a background or theoretical framework for a field of inquiry. These sources may include the original works of primary theorists as well as works which build upon, critique and discuss these primary sources while connecting it to the latest research. This type of literature is also an important component of any literature review.

Philosophical Literature

Information sources such as books and articles, which deal with the underlying beliefs, attitudes and concepts that form the basic assumptions or building blocks within a profession or field of study.  This kind of literature formulates critical inquiry from either an ethical, epistemological, metaphysical or logical standpoint. The extent to which you use philosophical literature will depend on the focus and subject matter of your review but it may be useful when constructing a background or theoretical base in your writing.

Empirical or Practice-based Literature

Encompasses literature that may be sourced via library databases and the internet. Empirical literature is written by practitioners or experts in a particular field who wish to share their experiences and inform current practices in that area.  Literature types may include case studies, discussion papers, opinion pieces or reflective essays. These resources may be useful to contextualise or support your literature review but should always be used in conjunction with research literature. 

Statistical Reports

An important part of the research in any field of study, statistical reporting and datasets are useful for description, analysis and comparison in your literature reviews. When referring to statistical data in your reviews, ensure you source the most up-to-date research from reliable sources such as the Australian Bureau of Statistics, other government departments or authoritative institutions and organisations.  

Grey Literature

Grey literature describes both unpublished or published documents, which are not controlled by commercial publishers.  These sources include: Government and non-government reports, policy statements and papers; conference proceedings and theses; news sources and bulletins; and technical reports and standards. Again, depending on the focus of your review, this information may be used as supporting material to your primary resources, such as research and theoretical literature.  Grey Literature can be accessed by conducting a Google search or directly from relevant government, organisational and institutional websites. 

Types of Resources

Description

Provide an overview of a subject area or of a number of related topics.  They may also include detailed information about a specific topic or topics. Search for print books using MultiSearch.  These items may be collected from library shelves or requested from other campuses. eBooks are searchable from MultiSearch or A-Z Databases and may be read online or downloaded to any PC or device.

Purpose

Use books to gather comprehensive information on a topic. In the library, you will find mostly academic, non-fiction items which may be used in your assessment tasks to sketch out an overview on a subject or to illustrate an in-depth understanding.

Examples

Relevant Links

Description

Journal publications, sometimes called periodicals or serials, contain articles which offer research, reports, reviews, letters and other papers on specific topics. They are usually published weekly, monthly, quarterly or yearly. Academic publications are often peer-reviewed and as such provide up-to-date information from authorised sources. Search for journal articles via MultiSearch and A-Z Databases. Search for journal publications using A-Z Journals. You can also search for articles on the internet via Google Scholar or Researchgate

Purpose

Journal articles can provide you with more up-to-date information on specific aspects of a topic, and in smaller more digestible packages than books. Use journal publications to access scholarly research on a topic, often from a unique or new perspective.

Examples

Relevant Links

Description

Audiovisual material in the form of DVDs, podcasts, online streaming and so on, is searchable from MultiSearch or A-Z Databases. Videos in the library include movies, conferences and seminars, tutorials, documentaries and much more.

Purpose

AV items may be used as instructional material or gain an understanding of a topic by way of visual or concrete examples. 

Examples

Relevant Links

Description

News items are published at regular intervals and provide new information about various topics of interest to the general public. Magazines are also produced regularly and may focus on a particular subject area or cover a range of topics, again for consumption by the general public. The information within news publications and magazines are not in themselves scholarly works but may refer to academic sources. These sources can be found by searching MultiSearch or A-Z Databases

Purpose

To access recent or new information about current affairs, social, economic or political issues which provide an overview or introduction in digestible and readable packages.  While not scholarly information, these resources may be required for use in particular assessment tasks or point towards recent research in a particular field. 

Examples

Relevant Links

Description

Reference items such as dictionaries, encyclopaedias, handbooks and industry standards provide an overview of a subject area, or include specific definitions, technical or practical information. They are searchable via MultiSearch and A-Z Databases. Reference works at ACAP cover a range of topics including but not limited to sociology, social work and philosophy, psychology, counselling and mental illness, legal materials and policies, diagnoses, drug overviews, care planning and best practices for healthcare workers.

Purpose

Useful for a broad understanding of a topic, theory or theorist or for assessment tasks which require technical or practical information about a particular industry or field of inquiry. 

Examples

Description

A website is a set of related and interlinked pages which are hosted on the World Wide Web (WWW). A webpage refers to the individual pages contained within these sites. To search the WWW, download an internet browser (we recommend Google Chrome) and use a search engine such as Google to find content.

Purpose

The websites of particular institutions and government departments may be useful for your assessment tasks. You might also want to look at scholarly sites, such as Google Scholar, Researchgate, State Libraries, academic publishers and journal indexing services, to find the most scholarly information on the Web. Links recommended by the library can be found on the Useful Websites page. 

Examples

Description

Conference papers are presented at conferences which are usually themed around a specific subject area or set of related topics and presented as a collection of proceedings. Some papers may be peer-reviewed and are searchable from MultiSearch, within journal databasesDissertation Express or via Libraries Australia Trove database. A thesis or dissertation involves personal research, written by a candidate for an advanced university degree. Theses are also searchable from MultiSearchTrove, or within individual academic institutional repositories and indexing databases such as PQDT OpenNDLTDCORE and DART.

Purpose

Conference proceedings and theses can provide you with an in-depth look at some of the latest research on specific aspects of a topic.

Examples

Relevant Links

Description

Legal resources include documents such as, but not limited to Bills, Acts, regulations, statutory laws, by-laws, proceedings of Parliament, legal cases and tribunal decisions. Some of these resources may be found by searching MultiSearch, in databases such as AustLII or JADE or within legislative sites for individual states and territories. You will also find cases and tribunal decisions on the websites of regulatory authorities such as AHPRA.

Purpose

Use these information sources when you need to refer to current laws, records, cases and decisions in your assessment tasks.   

Examples

Relevant Links

Description

Government policies, reports, gazettes, media releases and parliamentary publications such as Hansards, are available from various websites here in Australia.  You can also search Google to find individual publications. MultiSearch and journal databases will include some government papers and reports in search results.  However, you should also directly consult federal and state departments and agencies, Libraries Australia GovPubs, the Analysis and Policy Observatory and State and Federal Parliamentary libraries. 

Purpose

Use these sources in your assessment tasks to access up-to-date and authoritative information on subject areas which may be affected by Federal or State government.

Examples

Description

Statistical reports and data from sites such as the Australian Bureau of Statistics gather information for a particular field of research or to report on the views and habits of the population. Data collection may be performed via interviews, questionnaires, surveys, censuses and so on. You'll also be able to search for and access statistical information using MultiSearch and journal databases. Other important sites for statistics include the Australian Institute of Family StudiesAustralian Institute of Health & Welfare and HILDA.

Purpose

An important part of the research in any field of study, statistical reporting and datasets are useful for description, analysis and comparison in your assessment tasks.

Examples