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Literature Review: Departmental Differences

Learning to Write a Systematic Review of Literature

Every Department & Professor is Different

This LibGuide offers a general overview of writing a Literature Review and this page shows some of the differences each department and professor may have. Make sure you always follow what your professor and syllabus have required.

Criminal Justice - Where to Find Research

  2. Reference materials, encyclopedias & dictionaries particularly subject specific reference materials can offer great background information and definitions.
  3. Scholarly Journals via Library Databases in particular subject specific databases (for example Criminal Justice Abstracts, Psychology and Behavioral Science Collection, Social Science Full Text with Retrospective or Education Research Complete)
  4. Official Websites make sure that information is verifiable and accurate (for example corporate web sites or government sites) These can include sites that offer full text to articles and research.
  5. Trade Journals some trade journals will offer materials geared for a particular field of study but will not offer original research. Make sure to note the type of journal the materials came from in your review.
  6. Books (or monographs) based on research.
  7. Legal resources such as court cases and pattens information
  8. Government documents


  • News, opinion and popular magazines such as Newsweek, Time, People, The New Yorker
  • Wikipedia or other social media such as Facebook, chat rooms, blog posts, online forums
  • Unverifiable websites, personal or bias sites
  • Newspapers or News websites
  • Textbooks
  • Books not based on research 
  • Multi-media resources such as podcasts, you tube videos, web videos, television broadcasts

Hard Sciences - Databases to Try

Historical Writing - An Overview

Academic writing within the discipline of history will primarily ask a student to participate first-hand in the historical research process, interpreting your findings to add new perspectives to an existing area of study or to answer a question about the past.  Research papers are one of the most commonly used methods for presenting this information in a history course.

Your GOALS when writing a historical research paper include the following:

  1. Choose a topic that asks a good historical question, and that allows an event to be understood or examined in a new or different way from previous historians.  
  2. Ensure that your topic is BROAD enough to find sufficient sources to support your research, but NARROW enough to prevent overloading yourself with unrelated or marginally-related results during the search phase.
  3. Focus on how your ideas and research connect to the work of previous historians.
  4. Make sure you have a clear, persuasive, well-organized thesis of your own.  

What is Historiography?

Definition of historiography

1a :the writing of history; especially :the writing of history based on the critical examination of sources, the selection of particulars from the authentic materials, and the synthesis of particulars into a narrative that will stand the test of critical methods
b :the principles, theory, and history of historical writing 
  • a course in historiography
2:the product of historical writing :a body of historical literature 
  • a survey of the country's historiography

(retrieved from

Essentially, historiography is the writing of history, or the writing of "the history of history" by historians.  For the purposes of this course, you need to know that a historiographic essay:

  1. summarizes the changing ideas and approaches to a particular topic of history 
  2. discusses why those ideas may have changed over time.