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Literature Review: The What, Why and How-to Guide — How to Pick a Topic

This guide will help you understand what is a Literature Review, why it is important and how it is done.

Picking a Topic and Keywords to Research your Topic

Whether you are writing a literature review as a standalone work or as part of a paper, choosing a topic is an important part of the process. If you haven't select a topic yet for your literature view or you feel that your topic is too broad, this page is for you!

The key to successfully choosing a topic is to find one that is not too broad (impossible to adequately cover) but also not too narrow (not enough has been written about it). Use the tools below to help you brainstorm a topic and keywords that then you can use to search our many databases. Feel free to explore these different options or contact a Subject Specialist if you need more help!


Concept map. Level one: Healthcare Policy. Level two: Insurance, Marijuana, COVID-19. Level three: COBRA, Afforable Care Act, Single-payer system; federal law, cannabis licensing, CBD; vaccine hesitancy, racial inequities, Families First Coronavirus Response Act

Concept Mapping

Concept mapping, a way to visualize the possible dimensions of a topic, is a helpful tool to narrow down a very broad topic. The video below can help you to develop keywords that you can use when searching for articles and books in databases.


Picking a topic and search terms

Below are some useful links and handouts that help you develop your topic. Check the handouts in this page. They are useful to help you develop keywords/search terms or to learn the best way to search databases to find articles and books for your research.