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Keep Current With Scholarly Literature

Keep Current with Scholarly Literature

Follow the Twitter accounts of scholars or organizations important to your research.  Your peers will be good sources for identifying useful social media options in your discipline, and you can make recommendations to your graduate students. 

This page provides more general academic social media resources that will address higher education topics such as news, pedagogy, technology, employment, and more.

Academic Twitter


To find blogs on topics of interest, consult with faculty, peers, explore professional association websites, and be creative!  Google searches that combine keywords for your discipline with the term 'blog' can be a way to identify useful and interesting blogs.

Blogs can be monitored individually, using web browser bookmarks, or aggregated via an RSS newsreader service.


My thanks to Lorrie Pellack, Iowa State University Library,
whose work informed this guide.

Scholars often share pre-publication versions of their research through online repositories that seek to build communication networks among participants.  Very selective examples include:

  • AAS Open - for African Academy of Sciences-funded and -affiliated researchers to publish immediately, without barriers and with the benefit of transparent peer review
  • Advance: A Sage Preprints Community - humanities and social sciences.
  • APSA Preprints - American Political Science Association
  • arXiv - a free distribution service and an open-access archive for scholarly articles in the fields of physics, mathematics, computer science, quantitative biology, quantitative finance, statistics, electrical engineering and systems science, and economics
  • - pre-print server for the health sciences
  • PsyArXiv - A free preprint service for the psychological sciences.  Maintained by The Society for the Improvement of Psychological Science
  • RePEc - a collaborative effort of hundreds of volunteers in 102 countries to enhance the dissemination of research in Economics and related sciences
  • SocArXiv -  Open archive of the social sciences. SocArXiv papers are moderated before appearing.
  • Social Science Research Network (SSRN) - SSRN is devoted to the rapid worldwide dissemination of research and is composed of a number of specialized research networks in the applied sciences, health sciences, life sciences, physical sciences, humanities, social sciences, law and economics

More complete lists of pre-publication repositories

Many tools are being developed as applications of machine learning and GPT-3 language models.  Each application addresses a particular challenge experienced in the research process.  Just a few of these tools are linked here.  Some of these are free, some offer a free trial period, others are fee-based.  Each varies in how explicit they are about the sources of their citation data, how frequently it is updated, or any biases of subject coverage or content.

If you work with a tool not listed below, please share it and your experience!

Search NUSearch for journal titles dedicated to publishing review articles start with the search strategy illustrated below.  Titles found with this search strategy are predominantly in science, medicine, and technology fields.

NUSearch search screen illustrating title search for term 'reviews' combined using NOT with phrase "book reviews" and the search limit for Material type showing 'journals' selected


Article length Literature Reviews can be published in any academic journal.  Search strategies for identifying Literature Review articles vary from database to database.

1.  In the ADVANCED SEARCH option of the database, is there a DOCUMENT TYPE filter that can be used to limit your search results?

Document type search limit options listing with LIterature Review selected using checkbox


2.  Is a THESAURUS provided by the database? 

Advanced search menu display with option for Thesaurus highlighted


If the Thesaurus identifies 'literature review' as a searchable subject term, combine it with topical keywords or additional thesaurus terms related to your topic.

Thesaurs search for term 'literature review' and results shown

3.  Some databases provide INDEXES rather than a Thesaurus.  Select the SUBJECT INDEX and search for the term 'literature review'.  Combine with terms that describe your topic.

Screen image with menu option for Indexes highlighted

Different Types of Literature Reviews

The definitions provided here were found in Sage Research Methods.

Literature review:
Narrative review is a synonym of Literature review
A literature review is a descriptive and/or analytic summary of the existing material relating to some topic or area of study. The term also refers to the process of producing such a review.

Integrative literature review:
A form of research that that generates new knowledge about the reviewed topic. Relevant literature is reviewed, critiqued, and synthesized in such a way that new frameworks and perspectives on the topic can be generated.

Statistical methods for formally contrasting and combining results from different studies in the hope of identifying patterns or other interesting relationships among study results.

Scoping review:
A review used to determine the scope or coverage of a body of literature on a given topic, and to provide a general overview of that topic. In contrast to a systematic review, which generally starts with a clearly defined question, this approach allows for a more general exploration of the related literature.

Systematic review:
A systematic review is a review of the literature that is conducted in a methodical manner based on a prespecified protocol and with the aim of synthesizing the retrieved information often by means of a meta-analysis.

NOTE:  Northwestern University Libraries provides consultations for those conducting a Systematic Review of the literature in their discipline.

Inclusive Searching

Ensuring that your literature review incorporates a wide range of views by diverse scholars in your discipline is an ongoing challenge.  Neither the publishing industry, nor the peer review process itself, is free of the biases of systemic racism, or the societal biases oppressing those of non-majority gender or sexual identities, or those with differing physical abilities. One strategy is to use library databases that specifically incorporate publications serving diverse communities when searching for literature.  Examples include Ethnic Newswatch and the Gender Studies Database.  These databases and more are linked from:

Additional strategies discussed elsewhere on this guide can help reduce this bias including:

  • Identify specific scholars who have shared their identity, then follow their social media -- consult with peers, faculty advisors or guest speakers for suggestions.
  • Identify relevant conferences, organization websites, podcasts, or social media feeds to follow
  • Cited Reference Searching using the publications of scholars who have shared their identity as key works
  • Are there journals in your field not yet indexed in library databases?  Track their new issues using Alerts (if offered by the publisher website); Advanced Searching in Google Scholar allows you to specify publication title in your search which may help bridge the gap.  Your subject librarian can assist you with identifying whether or not a journal is indexed.

There are efforts to highlight the expertise or published work of diverse scholars such as:

And efforts to improve the visibility, accessibility, and quality of journals published outside the dominant Western, often English-language, channels of scholarship.

Please share your successful strategies and helpful resources so they can be added to this guide to help others!!

My thanks to Brie Baumert, Gould Library, Carleton College, whose work on
Inclusive Searching identified many of the resources linked here.

Writing a Literature Review

Northwestern University Libraries provides consultations for those conducting a Systematic Review of the literature in their discipline.

Advanced Search on Google Scholar

Advanced Search options in Google Scholar

Click on the 3 horizontal lines in the top left corner of the screen to bring up this menu.  Select Advanced Search.


The Advanced Search screen provides several self-explanatory field options to increase the precision of your search results.  Highlighted in this image is the option to specify a publication title.