Skip to Main Content

Library Research Skills: Scholarship is a Conversation

Library Research Skills

From Research Interest to Literature Review


Authority is Constructed and Contextual & Format as Process

  • Revisit the first unit of this program for help in identifying authoritative, scholarly and relevant sources.

  • What type of sources should you use? Primary, secondary or tertiary ? Remember, sources may serve different purposes in the research process but be sure to trace a quote or concept to the original source.


Reading techniques

Skim read sources to determine main ideas and to get an overall impression of the content.

  • Read the title, abstract, introduction, chapters outline in a book, headings and subheadings in an article, and the conclusion
  • Take note of pictures, charts, or graphs, italicized or boldface words or phrases.
  • Decide whether or how a source covers, supports or adds to your research topic.


Scan or selectively read sources with a question in mind and disregard unrelated information.

  • Use chapters, headings, and indices to identify which sections might contain the information to your question
  • Decide how a source answers your research questions.


Read critically identified scholarly sources and decide to what extent you accept the authors’ arguments and approaches to your research topic and questions.

  • Examine arguments presented: Are they logically presented and well supported with research and evidence?
  • Evaluate study design or focus of the research: Are parameters clear and limitations identified and reasonable?
  • Assess the interpretations made: Are they objective and/or reasonable?

Map or arrange your sources from your literature search according to your research questions.


Your readers expect you to do more than just mound up and report data; they expect you to report it in a way that continues the ongoing conversation between writers and readers that creates a community of researchers. To do that, you must select from all the data you find just those data that support an answer to a question that solves a problem your readers think needs solving.

Booth, Wayne C, Gregory G. Colomb, and Joseph M. Williams. 2011. The Craft of Research. 40. Chicago: U of Chicago P.



From Annotated Bibliography to Literature Review


The following pages have been extracted from the University of North Alabama's Center for Writing Excellence 



"Comparing the Annotated Bibliography to the Literature Review." UNA Center for Writing Excellence. U of North Alabama, n.d. Web. 10 Oct. 2014.


Sources selected for an annotated bibliography represent or cover arguments and approaches relevant to the research topic. Sources are described according to the agreed documentation style (MLA), arranged in alphabetical order and include a summary and evaluation. 

In annotating a source, you may do the following:

  • Summarize the main arguments
  • Assess reliability (evidence, objectivity and authority) of arguments and interpretations
  • Reflect on how the source may answer or provide an approach to your research questions.


What it is...


Writing a Literature Review.” ELS: Effective Learning Service. Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh, n.d. Web. 10 Oct.      




What it does...


Hart, Chris. “The Literature Review in Research.” Doing a Literature Review: Releasing the Social Science Research

Imagination. Sage, 1999.1-25. PDF File.



Using Transitions in your Literature Review

Scholarship is a Conversation

Scholarship is like a conversation where ideas are created, debated, and weighed against one another over time. Information users and creators come together to discuss meaning, with the effective researcher adding his or her voice to the conversation.

Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education, Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL)