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Engineering: The Literature Review Process

How to do a thorough literature review for a dissertation, thesis, applied project or grant application.


Don't start a project without first gathering the tools you'll need.  For the first three tools mentioned below, you'll access them via the Libraries home page under "Accounts"

Library Account

Your library account shows your contact information and what items you have checked out and on hold.  If you have fines accumulated this will be shown, too.

Before you start a literature review make sure your library account is clear of fines.  If not, you may not be allowed to check out more books nor renew books you already have.  

All library notices are sent via email to your "" address; if you prefer to receive email at a different address make sure you have forwarded your correctly.  Also, make sure that your spam filter allows the library email to come through.  

For questions or problems with your account, contact our Access Services unit at or 480-965-2600 (Noble) or 480-965-3605 (Hayden). 

Interlibrary Loan and Document Delivery (ILLiad) Account

The Interlibrary Loan (ILL) service obtains books and journal articles not available in the ASU Library.  You need to activate your "ILLiad" account before you can start requesting items via this service.  To activate, on the ILLiad login screen, click on the red, first time users link and follow the instructions.  

Screenshot of ILLiad logon screen

When you are in library databases, the yellow, "Get It @ ASU" button gives you a link to request the item via the ILL service whenever the item is not available online from the ASU Library - clicking on this link takes you to the Illiad login screen.  Once you login the computer will automatically fill in the form for you; check for errors and then click submit.

Get It @ ASU screenshot for when article is not available online

When an item has been received we'll notify you by email that it's available:

  • If it's a print item, pick it up at the Information Desk in the library you specified when you placed the request.  The Library from which we borrowed the book determines how long you may have it - no renewals are permitted on Interlibrary Loan obtained books.  Books require shipping and most will be available within 4-7 days. 
  • If it's a article or other short item, it will be scanned and placed in your online account for a maximum of 60 days.  Most journal articles will be in your account within 48 hours after your request is received (not counting weekend days).


For problems with Interlibrary Loan, contact our Interlibrary Loan staff directly at 480-965-3282 or 

Keeping Track

You'll be searching many databases multiple times and with different search strategies - keeping track of what you need to do as well as what you've already done will eliminate redundancies and prevent missing steps.  Don't forget to keep track of alerts/feeds/saved searches as well.

Use what ever "keeping track" method works best for you - paper or software.  

Hours and Locations