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The Literature review and your Research Proposal

Your Research Proposal should:

  1. Introduce the topic and explain why it is important to study.
  2. Provide some background or context to the topic.
  3. Clearly state the purpose of the research, the hypothesis or research objective, and the research question.

A review of the literature on your topic will help you do all three things effectively.

Purdue's guide to Writing a Literature Review

Your Research Question

Clear: easily understood by your audience

Focused: narrow enough to allow you to address it in your assignment

Concise: expressed in the fewest possible words

Complex: Cannot be answered with yes or no. Is not a leading question

Open: open to research - should generate more questions

Types of Literature

Types of literature to include
Scholarly Grey literature Professional or trade journals

Scholarly  journal articles:

  • published by experts in the field
  • evidence of original research
  • includes a literature review
  • possibly peer-reviewed

Scholarly books and book chapters

  • published by a scholarly/university press
  • well researched
  • authors are affiliated with a university or relevant organization

Grey literature:

  • Government reports and data
  • Datasets
  • Reports from not-for-profits and NGOs
  • Academic and non-academic conference presentations
  • Theses and dissertations
  • White papers
  • Blogs and newsletters

Professional or trade journals:

  • Written by practitioners or professionals
  • Unlike scholarly journals, trade publications do not contain original research and are meant to be practical in nature. Their focus is on current practices and issues.

Search for these in library databases or Google Scholar

Search for these in Google, Google Scholar or ERIC Search for these resources using Library databases or  Google 
sample search:  "early childhood" caregiver burnout

 sample search: 

"early childhood" "special needs"

youth trauma resilience canada type:pdf

indigenous culture youth

sample search:

pandemic "early childhood" safety canada


Child Studies Article Databases

Search article databases. If the article is not in the database, click on the "Find Full Text" link. 

Organizing and synthesizing your sources

Organizing Your Sources - Template

Author Date Research Question Conclusions Themes Methodology Comments

Synthesizing sources (Purdue University's Online Writing Lab)

Finding Related Research

If you find an article that is relevant to your paper, you can use that article to find similar works.

Author - search for other articles by the same author(s). Most researchers tend to focus their research on similar topics.

Journal - browse or search within the same journal. Many journals have a very specific focus that might be relevant to your search. Look for special issues that publish multiple articles on the same topic.

You can see if the library has access to a specific journal here: Journals by title

Search the reference list at the end of an article - you can use the reference list at the end of an article to identify other research on your topic. But that approach will only allow you to find articles published before your article was written.

There are ways to identify related articles that have been published since your article was written.

Search for your article in the following databases or Google Scholar and use the 'Cited by' or 'Times cited' tools to identify newer articles on your topic.

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