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Literature Reviews

This guide will introduce you to how to conduct an effective literature review.


Not all databases will be relevant for all researchers. For example, someone conducting a review of the literature on recent developments in computer science won't need a historical newspaper database. It's important to choose the right resources in order for your search to be effective. You will likely need to search in several different places. For all researchers, Worldcat and Discovery will be useful.

Worldcat is a search tool that allows you to search for content at LSU and at other libraries across the world. While we have access to most materials you'll need for your research, we don't have immediate access to everything, but we can get you fairly quick access to just about anything. If you find something useful for your research in Worldcat, you can use the "Request through Interlibrary Loan" button to have articles and books sent to you, with digital materials usually taking 1-2 days to arrive in your inbox.

Discovery is a search aggregator, meaning it searches multiple resources at once. Discovery searches more than 100 databases and the LSU Libraries catalog, so it's a great start for broad searching. You may still wish to search individual databases that are specialized to your area of research as Discovery does not search every database to which we subscribe.

To identify other resources that you may want to use, consider using the A-Z databases or research guides.

The A-Z databases list allows you to view all of our database subscriptions. This list also includes filters to identify the databases most relevant your subject area or to find something that contains a particular format, such as multimedia or newspapers.

Research guides are webpages like this one, curated by librarians and library staff at LSU. These guides contain resources (often including databases, journals, books, and freely available content from the web) that are geared toward your subject area or for a particular course.

If in doubt, ask a librarian! Your subject librarian knows what resources are most relevant for your research and how to search effectively in them.

Limiting Search Results

Most databases and other resources offer limiters to narrow down your results once you've done a search. You can use these to help refine you results. Some of these limiters may include date ranges, region of focus/publication, material type, peer-reviewed/non-peer-reviewed, and language. Use these within your search to only show the results relevant to the parameters of your research.

As the search interface varies between databases, the research guide linked below has helpful videos for how to do this in our most frequently used databases.

Interlibrary Loan

Even though LSU Libraries offers lots of resources, we don't have access to everything. However, we can get you access to just about anything through interlibrary loan (ILL). If you need an article or book that the library does not have, that cost does not need to come out of your pocket - ILL can get almost anything for you!

Visit the ILL page and watch the video on how to make an account.

If you don't have the full citation in front of you to fill out your ILL request, you can use Discovery or Worldcat to autofill the fields.

In Discovery, you'll find the request feature in the search results, underneath any item we don't have full text access for.

A screenshot of a Discovery search result with the Request through LSU Interlibrary Loan button circled

In WorldCat, you'll see markers in your search results marked as "Libraries that own this item," and will either say LSU Libraries or WorldCat Libraries. If you see WorldCat Libraries, you'd need to request that item through ILL. You can find the button by clicking on the item and scrolling down about halfway down the page.A screenshot of a Worldcat result with the Request through Interlibrary Loan button circled

First Stops: Where to Find Sources by Format

This list is not meant to be comprehensive; rather, you can use this guide to give you a starting point for where to find different materials for your research. For other suggestions, talk to your subject librarian.


Suggested Sources


Peer-reviewed journal articles


Most, but not all, articles at LSU Libraries and some that can be requested through ILL

Article Databases

This includes broad, multidisciplinary database like Academic Search Complete and more subject-specific databases like Earth, Atmospheric & Aquatic Science


Articles available at other libraries that can be requested through ILL


LSU Libraries Catalog

Books at LSU Libraries (print and e-books)


Books at LSU Libraries (print and e-books)


Books at other libraries that can be requested through ILL


Access World News

Current news


Current news

America’s Historical Newspapers

Historical news

Theses & Dissertations

LSU Libraries Catalog

Theses and dissertations at LSU

LSU Digital Commons

Theses and dissertations at LSU

Dissertations & Theses AI

Theses and dissertations from other institutions

Government Documents

LSU Libraries Catalog

Print and electronic resources housed in LSU Libraries’ Government Documents department


Government documents available freely online

Archival Material

LSU Libraries Special Collections

Rare books, manuscripts, and university archives at LSU


Archival material available online or at other institutions

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