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SCW 471 Social Research Methods Fall 2018: Welcome


The purpose of this guide is to provide information about resources available to you through Concordia Libraries. You will find information on how to locate books and articles using the libraries catalog as well as outside sources.  There is also information about references and citations in APA style.

Literature Review

A literature review is an evaluative report of information found in the literature related to your selected area of study. The review should describe, summarize, evaluate and clarify this literature. It should give a theoretical base for the research and help you (the author) determine the nature of your research. Works which are irrelevant should be discarded and those which are peripheral should be looked at critically.

A literature review is more than the search for information, and goes beyond being a descriptive annotated bibliography. All works included in the review must be read, evaluated and analyzed. Relationships between the literature must also be identified and articulated, in relation to your field of research.

"In writing the literature review, the purpose is to convey to the reader what knowledge and ideas have been established on a topic, and what their strengths and weaknesses are. The literature review must be defined by a guiding concept (e.g. your research objective, the problem or issue you are discussing, or your argumentative thesis). It is not just a descriptive list of the material available, or a set of summaries".

University of Toronto. (n.d.). The literature review: A few tips on conducting it. Retrieved from

Information Literacy

Keyword searching utilizes the most important words from research question.  Get rid of the small words and keep the main ideas. For example if you use one of the examples from the course syllabus: "Jesus' Attitude toward the Ritual Law of Judaism" .....the keywords or phrases would be Jesus, Ritual Law, and Judaism. Think about how to use those keywords in a search and if boolean operators would help.

Boolean operators define the relationship between search terms.

  • AND searches for all of the search terms. The AND operator limits the search because the sources in the results must contain both terms. (cars AND trucks)
  • OR searches for either of the search terms. The OR operator expands the search because the sources in the results can contain either term. (cars OR trucks or automobiles)
  • NOT excludes the search term immediately after the NOT operator. The NOT operator limits the search because the sources in the results cannot include the term following the word NOT. (cars NOT trucks)

Here is a series of Venn diagrams to show you how the Boolean operators limit or expand searches.


After you have determined your keywords from your research question your search may begin!!

The video below describes how the keywords you've chosen are used to determine what will show up in your results.  How that works in an academic database or the library's catalog is different than when conducting a Google search. 

Evaluating information is crucial at all times, but especially so when you are conducting research.  Below are some criteria in which to judge the sources that you find.  Keep in mind that information needs vary greatly. There are times when you need the most up to date information such as in the sciences or medical fields but in historical studies examining the Authority, Bias, Depth and Relevance are going to be most important.


  • Can you verify the information presented using other sources like encyclopedia articles, government documents, statistical data, or primary sources?
  • Are other researchers citing this source?


  • Who is the intended audience (scholars, the general population, a specific group) ?
  • How do your research needs compare with those of the intended audience?


  • Who is responsible for the presentation of this information? (publisher, funding agency, etc.)
  • What are the author's credentials? (education, institutional affiliation, previous research, honors, etc.)
  • Is the publication from a reliable publisher? What is the domain?


  • What sources did the author use in preparing this presentation?
  • What is the scope of the research presented?


  • Does the author offer evidence, in the form of primary and secondary sources, to support his/her assertions?
  • Is the information over-simplified and emotionally charged or logically investigated?
  • What is the author's intent? To inform, persuade, sell, entertain?


  • How is this source positioned within the current conversation surrounding your topic?
  • How does this source build upon previous scholarship?


  • How deeply does the author explore the subject matter?
  • Does the author meet the goals defined in the abstract or introduction?


  • What will this particular source add to your research?
  • Does the source inform your argument, or answer questions posed by your topic.
  • How does this source work with the other resources you will be using?

evaluation criteria originally created by Colby College

(the logo is the link)

How Do I Write a Literature Review

Dr. Zina O'Leary explains the misconceptions and struggles students often have with writing a literature review. She also provides step-by-step guidance on writing a persuasive literature review

Research as Inquiry

Research is iterative and depends upon asking increasingly complex or new questions whose answers in turn develop additional questions or lines of inquiry in any field.

Learners who are developing their information literate abilities:

  • consider research as open-ended exploration and engagement with information;
  • appreciate that a question may appear to be simple but still disruptive and important to research;
  • value intellectual curiosity in developing questions and learning new investigative methods; maintain an open mind and a critical stance;
  • value persistence, adaptability, and flexibility and recognize that ambiguity can benefit the research process;
  • see multiple perspectives during information gathering and assessment;
  • seek appropriate help when needed;
  • follow ethical and legal guidelines in gathering and using information;
  • demonstrate intellectual humility (i.e., recognize their own intellectual or experiential limitations.)
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