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Art and Graphic Design

Resources for workshop (Spring 2024)

Literature Review (with Annotated Bibliography Document)

Creating a literature review

How to start?

Start with a question or a problem and look for ALL the answers or solutions. Don't limit yourself to a predetermined thesis. Allow those who came before you to guide you. You're entering a conversation that began long before you started asking questions. Be humble. 

What do you need?

You will want to prioritize empirical research articles that report research based on observed and measured phenomena. How do you know if an article is empirical? There are search tips and clues that can help you make the judgment.

  • Try adding specific keywords to the abstract (study OR methodology OR subjects OR participants OR data OR results OR findings OR discussion)
  • Check each article to see if it includes methods/methodology, results/findings, and discussion sections. Be aware that they may use synonyms for these words. 
  • In ERIC (an education database), you can limit your Document Type to Reports-Research.

Where to search?

Everywhere. That's not fair. Everywhere is overwhelming, but definitely in multiple places. As an undergraduate, cherry-picking a few sources from one place might have worked okay. As a graduate student, however, the goal is different. You are trying to become an expert in an area of scholarship, which means locating the depth of what has been written. This requires time and ingenuity.

Specific Journals for Art Educationjournals can be in multiple databases

When choosing which database to use to search or browse a specific journal, look at the included dates. You can also choose a database you are more comfortable with searching and browsing.


When choosing which database to search for research, consider the disciplinary area covered by each database. Each database has its unique list of journals and unique functionalities (even if these databases come from the same company). 

Other Resources to Know

Interlibrary Loan (is your friend)

Contrary to what Google would have you believe, most information is not free. Rod Library pays a lot of money for the resources you access through our databases, unfortunately, budgets never go as far as we wish they would. If we do not have access to the material you need, our Interlibrary Loan staff will try to get it for you. 

In addition to filling out the form, many of our databases include "Find It" buttons.  yellow find it button

These buttons will sometimes open the article's full text from another product we subscribe to. However, if we do not have full-text access, they will take you to a library catalog (OneSearch) screen where you can "Request from ILLiad."

NOTE: You must sign in to your Rod Library account using your CatID to see this option in the library catalog.

Google Scholar (may or may not be)

Google Scholar search

Google Scholar is a wonderful tool for your toolbox, but like any other tool, it cannot be the only one you use. Use Google Scholar with eyes wide open and 

  1. ensure you have "Library Links" for the University of Northern Iowa enabled to access more UNI-accessible PDFs.
  2. consider using the "Advanced Search" options to narrow your search.
  3. evaluate the results (including checking the credibility of the journal in which the article was published).
  4. Use it IN ADDITION to other databases, not in replacement of them. 
  5. do not pay for research! Utilize ILL or email your librarian for help.