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Literature Reviews and Field Statements

This guide is designed to support Schar PhD students conducting research for their field statements and literature reviews. It may also be useful for thesis writers.

Getting started!

Literature reviews and subject guides:

Cut through information overload--draw on published literature reviews and subject guides.

Use specialized search engines (library databases) to locate articles on your topic.

These general databases are good starting points:

Focused databases can help you weed out the junk, especially when your topic fits neatly into a single area of study. Try these:

Has a professor told you to browse the library stacks? It's a great idea. Libraries organize books by topic, so you should find books on your topic close together on the shelves.

Here's how to do it:

  1. Identify a handbook or key text (see other tabs in this box for instructions)
  2. Look up that book in the library catalog
  3. Write down the call number
  4. Browse the shelves around that call number at BOTH Arlington Campus Library AND Fenwick Library in Fairfax

Tip: Spend an hour or two in the library taking notes at the shelves. Skim the table of contents and any relevant chapter(s), take notes right there, and only take the book home if it still looks useful.

Don't overlook the most valuable resource available to you: other researchers in your field(s).

Discuss your research with faculty, post-docs, and your peers.