Literature review sources

Literature review sources can be divided into three categories as illustrated in table below:

Sources of literature Characteristics Examples
Primary sources for the literature High level of detail

Little time needed to publish




Conference proceedings

Company reports

Unpublished manuscript sources

Some government publications

Secondary sources for the literature Medium level of detail

Medium time needed to publish




Some government publications

Tertiary sources for the literature Low level of detail

Considereable amount of time needed to publish







Citation indexes

 Sources for the literature and examples

Your literature review should integrate a wide range of sources such as:


  • Books. Textbooks remain as the most important source to find models and theories related to the research area. Research the most respected authorities in your selected research area and find the latest editions of books authored by them. For example, in the area of marketing the most notable authors include Philip Kotler, Seth Godin, Malcolm Gladwell, Emanuel Rosen and others.

  • Magazines. Industry-specific magazines are usually rich in scholarly articles and they can be effective sources to learn about the latest trends and developments in the research area. Reading industry magazines can be the most enjoyable part of the literature review, assuming that your selected research area represents an area of your personal and professional interests, which should be the case anyways.

  • Newspapers can be referred to as the main source of up-to-date news about the latest events related to the research area. However, the proportion of the use of newspapers in literature review is recommended to be less compared to alternative sources of secondary data such as books and magazines due to the fact that newspaper articles mainly lack depth of analyses and discussions.

  • Online articles. You can find online versions of all of the above sources. However, note that the levels of reliability of online articles can be highly compromised depending on the source due to the high levels of ease with which articles can be published online. Opinions offered in a wide range of online discussion blogs cannot be usually used in literature review. Similarly, dissertation assessors are not keen to appreciate references to a wide range of blogs, unless articles in these blogs are authored by respected authorities in the research area.


Literature review sources My e-book, The Ultimate Guide to Writing a Dissertation in Business Studies: a step by step assistance offers practical assistance to complete a dissertation with minimum or no stress. The e-book covers all stages of writing a dissertation starting from the selection to the research area to submitting the completed version of the work within the deadline.


John Dudovskiy