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The Literature Review

Sources at the FAU Libraries

Searching on a laptop

Image: Woman reading web page on laptop. Permission by license.

If you are an FAU student, staff, faculty, or affiliate and have picked a topic for your review, start your search for information by looking through the sources available through the FAU Libraries.  The Libraries provides access to thousands of journals, books, and other sources of information (thanks to some tax dollars and student fees, otherwise they are not free).  For those at other institutions, refer to your local library or information center to see what they offer.

What about Google?  

Google, the popular internet search engine, is an index of web pages.  It is a finding tool for web pages and can help identify some sources of information.  Google itself is not a publisher or a direct source of information like books, journals, or data.  Its technology searches the content of web pages and some documents, and then provides links to them.  Although it may provide scholarly or professional articles in a list of search results, the academic publishers that provide content may have a paywall where readers may be asked to pay to see it.

Google Scholar is designed to search academic, research, and governmental web pages.  However, it has limited ability to directly search specialized sources such as indexes and databases.  Google Scholar may not provide direct or unrestricted access to these sources.  Due to their concerns about AI and its web scraping practices, some academic publishers show signs of limiting bibliographic citation information, abstracts, or links to full publications through Google Scholar.  

Google is the most commonly used resource for finding content on the web, but using only Google or Google Scholar does not provide a complete or comprehensive search for information.  We, along with your professors and advisors, recommend to use it in combination with subject-specific indexes and databases along with manual searching for your literature review.

To get started with your literature review, those at FAU can refer to the following sources:

Library Research 101: An Introduction to the FAU Libraries

Books, Journals and Library Materials

Indexes and Databases

Indexes are collections of published works like journals, dissertations and other types of documents.  In the library field, databases are online collections of various publications.  These can be searched by using keywords (everyday words and terms) or by controlled vocabulary (jargon or standardized words within a field to describe various concepts) which will generate a list of results.  

The FAU Libraries subscribe to indexes and databases that support all subjects and majors at the university.  Go to its A-Z Databases page to explore the sources available for your area, and start your search!

FAU Libraries A-Z Databases

FAU students, staff, faculty and certain affiliates can access the Libraries' collections by authenticating themselves on either OpenAthens or EZproxy to verify their current enrollment or affiliation with FAU.

Research Guides

We've provided a lot of information so far.  Not sure where to begin?  Start with the FAU Libraries Research Guides, which compile recommended sources of information for various subject areas and disciplines.  This can help you identify general information sources for your field, ranging from English to the physical sciences.  Browse our Research Guides to get started with finding library sources and related information provided by professional organizations or government agencies.

Specialized Collections

There are many libraries, museums and organizations that have collections of specialized works.  These works may include unique works, rare materials, or discipline-specific items such as:

  • Rare or hard-to-find collections (antiques, unique or one-of-a-kind items)
  • Works of art or culture (galleries, museums or collections)
  • Specialized sources (data, sound recordings, motion pictures, technical reports)
  • Biological specimens (tissues, slides)
  • Data or statistics (social science, education, physical sciences, etc.)

A search on Google or another search engine can assist with identifying specialized collections or other organizations with the information you need.  Also, ask your professor or advisor for recommended sources of information.

FAU Libraries' Collections

The FAU Libraries also has unique collections the following areas:

A search on Google or another search engine can assist with identifying specialized collections or other organizations with the information you need.  Also, ask your professor or advisor for recommended sources of information.