Literature Reviews

A literature review seeks to identify, analyze and summarize the published research literature about a specific topic.

A thorough literature review will often include searching the following types of resources:

Primary Sources – A source that reports the results of a research study

Find these in one of ourdatabases

  • The search results will be a mix of articles (some full-text available immediately, others needing an ILL request).

Secondary Sources – Information gathered from one or more primary research studies.

  • Narrative Reviews – General discussions of research studies. These provide a general overview but are not necessarily systematic or comprehensive.
  • Systematic Reviews – These are very comprehensive; and often include data analysis aggregated from multiple studies. They may also includes unpublished research studies if available.
  • How to find them:

    • Databases
    • The Cochrane Library: A database specializing in Health Science Systematic Reviews
    • PubMed’s Clinical Queries search filter: A filter within PubMed that lets you limit your search to clinical studies and systematic reviews.

Theses and Dissertations are documents that present the author's research and findings and are submitted in support of candidature for a degree or professional qualification. They represent a scholar's entry into the academic world and often precede a formally-published academic journal article. As such, they may offer recent, cutting-edge scholarship.

Find Them:

Pointing hand - take noteSome theses and dissertations found in ProQuest Dissertations and Theses can be downloaded at no cost, but many do cost a fee to download.  However - sometimes a free copy of these documents can be found elsewhere, by doing the following:

  • Copy the citation information for the thesis or dissertation you are interested in
  • Find the website of the college/university the author attended
  • If the school has an institutional repository, either navigate to it and search for the document by title or author there, or use the school's over-all website search box - enter the complete title of the document, with double quotes (") at both ends of the title
  • If the document is there and is an open access document, you may be able to obtain it for free

'Grey Literature' refers to information relevant to your research topic, but not published in scholarly journals, such as:

  • Government Documents
    • Find Them:
      • On Governmental websites
  • Conference Proceedings - A collection of academic papers published in the context of an academic conference
  • Position Papers - In business and politics, a written report outlining attitude or intentions abut a particular matter
    • Find Them:
      • On Governmental websites
      • On Non-Governmental Organization websites
      • On Professional Association websites
  • Research Posters - A short report of the results of research in a poster form

For much more about Grey Literature, read our guide in the 'Help Finding' area.


If you are using OneSearch to look for resources, please be aware that it is set, by default, to bring back only results the Wahsltrom Library already owns or has full-text access to.  If you are doing a literature review, and want to use OneSearch, you will want to search outside of the library.  To do so, do the following:

  • On the library main search page, run your search
  • In the upper left hand of the search results page, but below the search box area, you will see an Expand my results section
  • Click on the checkbox to choose Expand search outside library
  • The search will re-run, adding many additional resources which may have to be requested via our InterLibrary Loan service.

Google Scholar

Google Scholar is a filtered search option provided by Google.  When you use it, your results will be limited to academic and scholarly resources only. If and when free full text is available online, you will see a link on the far right (usually to a PDF or an html page).

If you use Google Scholar while you are physically on the University of Bridgeport campus, you will see additional links there, to resources that the Wahlstrom Library has access to.

If, however, you are using Google Scholar while off campus, you will not see those extra links.  If you find a resource listed in Google Scholar search results that you want while off-campus, but no full text is offered, do the following to check to see if the Wahlstrom Library offers full-text access:

  • Go to the library main search page
  • Go to the Research menu on the upper right, and click on the eJournal Finder link
  • Type the journal title from the citation information in the search box and click Go
  • If we have the title, click on it, then see if our access will give you to volume / issue you need
  • If it does, click on Click for full text link to go to the journal, then navigate to the correct issue


WorldCat is a global library catalog which allows you to search for materials, then see a listing of libraries which own that material. The results listing is in order of geographical proximity, with those closest listed first (based upon your zipcode).

If the Wahlstrom Library does not own an item or you do not wish to wait to request it via InterLibrary Loan, you succeed in locating it in a nearby library via WorldCat, and you have transport, you may find WorldCat a useful resource.

InterLibrary Loan

InterLibrary Loan is a service where, upon patron request, the Wahlstrom Library will request that another library loan (books) or send us (articles) materials that we do not own. There is no cost to the patron, who may request up to seven items per week.

More detailed information on the InterLibrary Loan process can be found here.