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Literature Searches, Surveys and Reviews: Examples of Annotated Bibliographies

This guide walks transportation professionals and students through the basics of conducting transportation literature searches, surveys and reviews.

The Annotated Bibliography: Examples

Bertini, Robert. 2012. Introduction to Library and Literature Research for Transportation. Portland, OR: Portland State University.

The Intelligent Transportation Systems Laboratory at Portland State University produced this guide for students conducting research. The guide includes specific resources available at the university and online, reference styles, notes on plagiarism and copyright, information about presenting research and instructions for writing literature reviews that include examples of good and bad organization.  


Boote, David N., and Penny Beile. August–September 2005. Scholars Before Researchers: On the Centrality of the Dissertation Literature Review in Research Preparation. Educational Researcher 34(6): 3-15.

From the abstract: A thorough, sophisticated literature review is the foundation and inspiration for substantial, useful research. The complex nature of education research demands such thorough, sophisticated reviews. Although doctoral education is a key means for improving education research, the literature has given short shrift to the dissertation literature review. This article suggests criteria to evaluate the quality of dissertation literature reviews and reports a study that examined dissertations at three universities. Acquiring the skills and knowledge required to be education scholars, able to analyze and synthesize the research in a field of specialization, should be the focal, integrative activity of predissertation doctoral education. Such scholarship is a prerequisite for increased methodological sophistication and for improving the usefulness of education research. 


Cooper, Harris. 1988. Organizing Knowledge Syntheses: A Taxonomy of Literature Reviews. Knowledge in Society 1: 104-126. 

From the abstract: A taxonomy of literature reviews in education and psychology is presented. The taxonomy categorizes reviews according to: (a) focus; (b) goal; (c) perspective; (d) coverage; (e) organization; and (f) audience. The seven winners of the American Educational Research Association’s Research Review Award are used to illustrate the taxonomy’s categories. Data on the reliability of taxonomy codings when applied by readers is presented. Results of a survey of review authors provide baseline data on how frequently different types of reviews appear in the education and psychology literature. How the taxonomy might help in judging the quality of literature reviews is discussed, along with more general standards for evaluating reviews. 


Fitt, M. Harrison, Andrew Walker, and Heather Leary. April 1, 2009. Assessing the Quality of Doctoral Dissertation Literature Reviews in Instructional Technology. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, San Diego, CA.

From the abstract: Assessment of the doctoral dissertation literature review provides insight into a student’s preparation for future work as a researcher. In 2004, efforts to assess the quality of literature reviews in doctoral dissertations were pioneered by Boote and Beile. Their work represents an important response to the call for improved research skills among emerging scholars. The purpose of this study is to replicate their work in a focused area of educational research, specifically Instructional Technology, and to examine the inter-rater reliability of the rubric. The findings suggest that dissertation literature reviews in Instructional Technology show the same need for improvement as dissertation literature reviews from education as a whole. Potential avenues of research are identified as well as improvements for rubric. 


Gall, M. D., W. R. Borg, and J. P. Gall. 1996. Educational Research: An Introduction. 6th edition. White Plains, NY: Longman.

From the abstract: A comprehensive introduction to the major research methods and types of data analysis used [in educational research], this text provides detailed coverage of all facets of research.


Guidelines for Abstracts. ANSI/NISO Z39.14-1997. NISO Press. Bethesda, MD. http://www.

From the abstract: Guidance is presented for authors and editors preparing abstracts that represent the content of texts reporting on the results of experimental work or descriptive or discursive studies. Suggestions for the placement of abstracts within publications or other media are given, along with recommendations for abstracting specific documents. Types of abstracts and their content are described. Also included are suggestions on the style of abstracts and a list of selected readings on the subject of abstracting. Examples of abstracts are appended. 


Hart, Chris. 1998. Doing a Literature Review: Releasing the Social Science Research Imagination. London: Sage.

This book about writing a literature review is for students in social sciences and humanities. The contents include guidance on searching for literature on a topic, analyzing arguments, organizing ideas and perspectives, producing a literature review, and justifying the need for an investigation. 


Levy, Yair, and Timothy Ellis. 2006. Towards a Framework of Literature Review Process in Support of Information Systems Research. Proceedings of the 2006 Informing Science and IT Education Joint Conference.

From the abstract: This paper introduces an initial effort towards developing a framework for writing an effective literature review. The target audience for the framework are novice IS researchers or other researchers who are constantly struggling with the development of an effective literature-based foundation for the proposed research. The proposed framework follows the systematic data processing approach comprised of three major stages: (1) inputs (literature gathering and screening); (2) processing (Blooms Taxonomy); and (3) outputs (writing the review). This paper provides the rationale for developing a solid literature review and addresses the central stage: processing the literature. The paper concludes by providing arguments for the value of an effective literature review as well as implications for future work in this proposed framework. 


Mattson, Jeremy, and David Ripplinger. December 1, 2008. How to Conduct a Literature Review. Transportation and Logistics Seminar, Small Urban & Rural Transit Center, Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute.

This presentation includes why a literature review is necessary, tips on searching, evaluating sources, reading literature, note-taking, writing and traps to avoid. 


Mullins, Gerry, and Margaret Kiley. 2002. “It’s a PhD, Not a Nobel Prize”: How Experienced Examiners Assess Research Theses. Studies in Higher Education 27(4): 369-386. 

From the abstract: Research to date on the examination process for postgraduate research theses has focused largely on the deconstruction of examiners’ reports. This article reports on a study of the processes that experienced examiners go through, and the judgments they make before writing their reports. A sample of 30 experienced examiners (defined as having examined the equivalent of at least five research theses over the past 5 years), from a range of disciplines in five universities was interviewed. Clear trends emerged with regard to: the criteria used by examiners and the levels of student performance expected by them; critical judgment points in the examination process; the examiners’ perceptions of their own role in the process; the influence on examiners of previously published work, the views of the other examiner(s) and their knowledge of the student’s supervisor or department; and the level of perceived responsibility between student and supervisor. 


Randolph, Justus. June 2009. A Guide to Writing the Dissertation Literature Review. Practical Assessment, Research & Evaluation 14(13).

From the abstract: Writing a faulty literature review is one of many ways to derail a dissertation. This article summarizes some pivotal information on how to write a high-quality dissertation literature review. It begins with a discussion of the purposes of a review, presents taxonomy of literature reviews, and then discusses the steps in conducting a quantitative or qualitative literature review. The article concludes with a discussion of common mistakes and a framework for the self-evaluation of a literature review. 


Washington, Simon, John Leonard, David Manning, Craig Roberts, Billy Williams, Ataur Bacchus, Adarsh Devanhalli, Jennifer Ogle, and Daniel Melcher. 2001. Scientific Approaches to Transportation Research. NCHRP Report 20-45, Vols. 1 and 2.

This document is an extensive manual on transportation research. Of particular note are Volume 1, Chapter 5, which addresses the purpose and organization of literature reviews; Volume 1, Appendix A, which covers the evaluation of sources; and Volume 1, Appendix C, which covers formatting. 


Webster, Jane, and Richard Watson. June 2002. Analyzing the Past to Prepare for the Future: Writing a Literature Review. MIS Quarterly 26(2): xiii-xxiii.

This editorial addresses the quality of literature reviews that accompanied works submitted to MIS Quarterly, with notes about the journal’s expectations, organization of reviews, and use of the review to extend theories and identify directions for new research. 

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