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ANTH 450: Ethnographic Research Methods: Home

Bibliographies & Lit. Reviews

An annotated bibliography will list works with brief summaries, and provide subject access either through indexing or layout. A literature review will discuss other works in a narrative format to describe the development and current state of the literature on the subject.

For more information on how to write annotated bibliographies and literature reviews consult the Tips and Tools handouts from The Writing Center. 

Literature Review

  • What is meant by "the literature"?
  • Reviewing the literature is like participating in a conversation. As you read and evaluate articles you begin to understand how they are connected and how they form the story that the authors are telling. Then you start to formulate your own response or contribution. 

1.    Choosing, exploring, and focusing on a topic

2.    Research and collect information

3.    Read articles, take notes, shape ideas

4.    Keep track of citations using Zotero

5.    Write paper, revise, proof-read and include bibliography

Source NCSU Libraries

Scholarly articles

Scholarly resources have the following features:

1. They are written by experts - look for an author's credentials or affiliations.

2. They are written for other experts or people in academia. Think of each scholarly work as a voice in an ongoing conversation to which you will add your voice when you write a paper. 

3. They use scholarly language with technical, discipline specific vocabulary.

4. They provide verifiable and reliable evidence for claims. Even if the resource is a general history/overview it will contain well researched information that the reader can verify.

5. They may be peer reviewed. Many journals go through an editorial process where other experts review and assess the information. 

How do you know if a journal is peer reviewed? Some databases will let you check a box to limit to peer reviewed articles. You can also look at the journal's website which will explain the editorial process including whether or not the journal is peer reviewed. 

Scholarly articles have certain things in common:

  • Bibliographic information (author, title, publisher, date, volume and issue number)
  • Author credentials and affiliations (what and where of expertise) 
  • An abstract stating a summary of the article
  • Science and social science articles will most likely have an introduction, methodology (how research was conducted), results, discussion, and conclusion
  • Notes, references, or works cited; This information is provided so readers know where the information was obtained, can verify sources, and/or use information for their own research. 


How to read a scholarly article




















Source: Undergraduate Library - University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

What are library databases?

Library databases are where students and scholars search for scholarly articles, other academic publications, as well as news and magazine articles. The library purchases access to hundreds of databases to support research. 

There are two main types of library databases: 

  • Specific, or those that search specific disciplines or areas of study, and

  • General, or those that search across many disciplines.

Library databases vs google

  • Reliability 
    • Anyone can publish their ideas on the internet
    • Information might be out of date since there are no formal reviews in place
    • Information found through Google or other search engines is not evaluated for accuracy 
  • Information found in library databases is preferred because:
    • Information is written and reviewed by experts 
    • Information is evaluated for accuracy and reliability
    • Recommended by librarians and faculty
  • Relevance
    • Google or other search engines turn up lots of results but have very little to do with your search
    • Google lacks filters
  • Library databases are preferred because:
    • You have more control over your search, since filters such as date ranges, languages, and peer reviewed can be applied
    • UNC's library databases are grouped in subjects making it easier to find the appropriate information
  • Permanence
    • In ​Google or other search engines content can change or disappear all together
    • Therefore it can not be archived and makes it impossible to verify your information
  • Library databases are preferred because:
    • Library databases provide published information that doesn't change over time
    • This information will remain in the databases so that you will have access over a long time and scholars are able to verify your work

Source:, Evaluating Internet-Based Information: Library databases vs. search engines, from Bethel College Library.

Keyword searching

When searching for sources in library databases you will need to use specific search terms known as keywords. Picking the right keywords is an important part of the research process and can affect your search results. Keywords should represent the main concepts in the topic you're exploring. Keywords are single words or short phrases that can be combined in various forms to generate different search results. 

Selecting keywords is a multi-step process that involves:

  • identifying the main concepts of your topic
  • brainstorming synonyms and antonyms that could also be used to describe your topic
  • spell out abbreviations

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Joanneke Fleischauer