Marymount California University Library

AM 201: Western Civilization Art Since the Renaissance

Searching for a topic

When conducting your initial search for a topic in the Library Catalog, start with a broad topic and then focus that search by limiting the results by format (i.e. print book, eBook, or article), year, and even by topic.  By starting with a broad topic you will discover all of the available research and then you can begin to focus both your results as well as the topic, letting the results inform your actions.  The image below illustrates the limiters available to you in the Library Catalog:

    (click on the image to view)

Selecting a Topic

The most difficult aspect of writing a literature review is selecting the topic.

Some rules to follow when selecting a topic for your literature review:

  • Choose a well-researched area of study.  An area that is well defined and well studied will give you more literature to choose from.
  • Before you settle on your topic, search the Library Catalog and other Library databases to assess if there is a sufficient amount of literature for you particular topic, keeping in mind that if you there is too much information you may have to focus or narrow down the scope of your topic.
  • Narrow your topic.  After searching the Library's resources and learning if there is enough research available to conduct a literature review, focus you topic, keeping in mind both the length of your literature review and the number of articles you need to include in you literature review.

Key concepts of a literature review:

Knowledge Accumulates: A literature review is based on the idea that knowledge accumulates, and that we learn from and build on what others have done. Your goal in doing a literature review is to critically situate your work within that larger body of knowledge. You will situate it by looking thoroughly at the existing research related to the topic you are researching. 


Connecting Your Work to Others: What is the larger context that my work fits in? What has been discussed on my topic and by whom? Why is my work interesting or different? How does my work build upon the existing body of knowledge?  By asking these question you will be able connect your work with the research and ideas found in the literature you are reviewing.


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