The University of Texas

Designing for Human Behavior

Course number: ARI 338

Literature Reviews

A literature review provides you with an overview of existing literature (books, articles, dissertations, conference proceedings, and other sources) in the chosen area. When embarking on a research project beginning with a literature review will allow you to:

  • Gather information about your topic, including the sources used by others who have previously conducted research
  • Find out if your specific research question has already been answered
  • Find out what areas or perspective on your topic have not yet been covered by others
  • Analyze and evaluate existing information

The literature review will assist you in considering the validity and scope of your research question so that you can do the necessary revision and fine tuning to it. This will provide the base need to formulate and present strong arguments to justify your chosen research topic.

Other resources:


  • Després, Carole. "The meaning of home: literature review and directions for future research and theoretical development." Journal of architectural and planning research 8, no.2, (Summer 1991): 96-155.
  • Eckersley, Michael. “The form of design processes: a protocol analysis study.” Design Studies 9, no. 2 (April 1988): 86-94.
  • Galasiu, Anca D., and Jennifer A. Veitch. “Occupant preferences and satisfaction with the luminous environment and control systems in daylit offices: a literature review.” Energy and Buildings 38, no. 7 (July 2006): 728-742

Case Studies

A case study is a research strategy that uses "an empirical inquiry that investigates a phenomenon or setting" in its real life context. (Adapted from Groat, Architectural Research Methods, 346).

Other resources:

  • George, Alexander L. Case Studies and Theory Development in the Social Sciences. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press, 2005. H 61 G46 2005
  • Groat, Linda N. Architectural Research Methods. New York: J. Wiley, 2002. NA 2000 G76 2002 (see chapter 12)
  • Yin, Robert K. Case Study Research: Design and Methods. 3rd ed. Thousand Oaks, Calif: Sage Publications, 2003. H 62 Y56 2003
  • Flyvbjerg, Bent. "Five Misunderstandings About Case Study Research." Qualitative Inquiry, 12, no. 2 (April 2006): 219-245.


  • Brooker, Graeme. Context + Environment. Lausanne, Switzerland: AVA Academia, 2008. NA2850 .B76 2008
  • Ladau, Robert F. Color in Interior Design and Architecture. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1989. NK2115.5.C6 L34 1989
  • Poldma, Tiiu. Taking up Space: Exploring the Design Process. New York: Fairchild Books, 2009. NA2850 .P65 2009

Top Indexes and Databases

  • Avery Index to Architectural Periodicals
    Indexes more than 2,000 periodicals published worldwide on architecture and design, archaeology, city planning, interior design, and historic preservation.
  • InformeDesign
    Brings research and practice aspects of the design professions together. Includes material from a vast array of reputable research sources. To locate these articles see how to find articles from a citation.
  • IIDA Knowledge Center
    Contains a selection of research abstracts on a variety of design topics, with links to the original article or source.
  • Design Research Connections
    A subscription-based service that distills important, practical lessons from design-useful articles on psychology, sociology, anthropology, biology and other scientific fields as well as academic research in interior design, architecture and landscape architecture. Information is provided via their website, a quarterly electronic newsletter, an archive of hundreds of past articles, and a daily blog (free to subscribers and non-subscribers).
  • PsychINFO
    Covers the professional and academic literature in psychology and related disciplines.
  • Academic Searh Complete
    A comprehensive scholarly, multi-disciplinary full text database.
  • Google Scholar
    Search engine for academic literature. Note that it only search a small fraction of what is available through specialized databases. Particularly useful to find articles and books that cite a specific article/book.
  • WorldCat
    Online union catalog describing the collections of thousands of libraries around the world.
  • scoUT
    UT Libraries’ discovery tool. It is a single interface to search the combined resources provided by the University of Texas at Austin Libraries. It offers an easy and fast interface with a Google-like search box, and a large central index that includes all kinds of content, including books, journal and newspaper articles, theses and dissertations and more. For more information, see the scoUT FAQ page and scoUT search tips.

Other Relevant Resources

Finding Books

Use the Library Catalog:

  • start with keywords
  • once you find a good title, check the subject headings
  • you can save and/or email titles by using the Save to Clipboard button
  • search tips – truncation (*), phrases (“ “), for more tips see: Advanced Search

Find Articles from a Citation

When you have a citation for a specific article you will need to search for the title of the journal or magazine, the source. Once you find the journal, look for the year, volume and page number in the citation to locate the article.

  • e-journals: from the Research Tools drop down menu choose Find a Journal
  • print journals: from the Library Catalog choose Journal Title
    • current issues are kept in the reading room in alphabetical order
      • you can see the call number next to the title label
    • back issues are shelved at the upper stacks level (level 6) by call number

Research Tips

  • keep a research journal, include where you have looked, what you found and how you found it
  • manage your citations: use EndNote or Zotero
  • check out the classes and other services your library has to offer!




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