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Labor Studies 191A-B: Research Principles, Methods & Practices


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Miki Goral
220 Powell Library

Connect from Off-Campus or via Wireless On-Campus

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UCLA students, faculty, and staff can access these sites from off-campus using either the UCLA VPN Client (a program you install on your computer) or Bruin Online Proxy Server (a simple setting in your browser). To set up an iPAD, follow the instructions for the iPhone. Off-campus access will require Multi-Factor Authentication in addition to a Bruin ID and Password. If you need help setting up your computer, contact the UCLA IT Support Center at (310) 267-4357 or . They answer the phone 24/7 and are very helpful.

[NOTE: If you are using a Mac, you may need to use Chrome or Firefox, not Safari, to read some of the pdf material.]

How to Start Your Search

The Internet has brought a vast array of information to your desktop. The challenge for students is to identify the relevant sources, get to them easily, and critically evaluate their content. Some of the following websites are licensed for UC users only, others are open to all. Those that are licensed will not turn up in a Google search.

This guide will lead you to resources that can help you find material for your assignments. Remember that you can always ask a reference librarian for help.

The Library offers Research Workshops and has a number of online tutorials that you can use on your own.

The Los Angeles Public Library also has digital books and databases that UCLA does not subscribe to. If you are a Los Angeles resident, you can get an e-Card from LAPL without going into the library.

Other Resources

These resources and the information in the Literature Review Tips, Guidelines and Resources box below will help you find material you can use for your research.

Other Research Guides that might be of interest.

Literature Review Tips, Guidelines, and Resources

What is a literature review?

  • A critical look at the research relevant to your research project.
  • A discussion of how the relevant literature addresses the themes and concepts in your paper.
  • A contextual overview of the work of previous authors, how they relate to each other, and how they relate to your research project.
  • An analysis of the gaps in the existing literature which your research hopes to fill.
  • A rationale for the relevance of your work to ongoing scholarly conversations.

What does a literature review do?

A literature review is not a list of summaries; it is an essential component of your project that:

  • puts your work in context.
  • establishes your credibility with your intended audiences.
  • demonstrates how your current work builds upon and/or deviates from earlier publications.

A literature review should:

  • be organized around and related directly to the thesis or research question you are developing
  • synthesize results into a summary of what is and is not known
  • identify areas of controversy in the literature
  • formulate questions that need further research

A few questions to ask yourself (and answer for your reader):

  • What is the gap in the literature/problem with previous research?
  • What conflict or unanswered question, untested population, untried method in existing research does your experiment address?
  • What findings of others are you challenging or extending?
  • What is the scope of my literature review?
  • What types of publications am I using (e.g., journals, books, government documents, popular media)? What discipline am I working in (e.g., nursing psychology, sociology, medicine)?
  • Have I critically analyzed the literature I use?
  • Do I follow through a set of concepts and questions, comparing items to each other in the ways they deal with them?
  • Instead of just listing and summarizing items, do I assess them, discussing strengths and weaknesses?
  • Have I cited and discussed studies contrary to my perspective?

Tips for finding literature reviews

One of the best ways to figure out how literature reviews work in your field is to find a few of them.

  • Ask your advisor or mentor for excellent examples of literature reviews. If possible, ask for an example from an undergraduate thesis, a masters or doctoral thesis, and a peer-reviewed journal article.
  • You can also ask a librarian to help you find example literature reviews!
  • Check out ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global and other databases to search for dissertations in your field. These will usually contain a literature review.
  • Search for “annual review” journals in your field, e.g., The Annual Review of Sociology
  • Search on your topic using a database (e.g., Web of Science) that allows you to filter specifically for review articles.


These tips and guidelines on writing literature reviews were adapted from: 

See also: