How to do a bibliographic review?


The first thing you do when you start writing your TFG, TFM or thesis is to decide what type of research you want to do. Are you going to do your own search and collect information on your own or, otherwise, will you collect existing information and analyze it?

If you choose the second option and your work is about a scientific topic, you can consider making a bibliographic review like TFG; but what does that mean?

Literature review TFG: What is it?
A bibliographic review is, mainly, a modality of academic work to elaborate scientific articles, works of end of degree, master or thesis.

The main objective of this modality is to carry out a documentary investigation, that is, to collect existing information about an issue or problem. You can obtain this information from various sources, such as magazines, scientific articles, books, archived material and other academic works. This documentary research provides a view on the status of the theme or problem currently chosen.

To make a bibliographic review as a quality TFG, it is not enough to summarize the information found. Otherwise, you must establish a relationship between the sources and make comparisons between them in order to critically analyze the information collected on the subject in question and, thus, answer the research question initially proposed.

Now that you have a slight idea about what a PDF review is, let’s go deeper into the subject.

Literature review TFG: Guide

The following steps will help you carry out a bibliographic review effectively:

  1. Justification of the bibliographic review.
  2. Compilation of the bibliography.
  3. Evaluation and selection of the bibliography.
  4. Preparation of the bibliographic review.
  5. Bibliographic review TFG: Justification
    The first step to make a bibliographic review like TFG, is to argue the reason of the documentary investigation. This consists of exposing and justifying the problem or research question of our TFG or thesis. This point, therefore, should answer the following question: why is the problem you have chosen relevant?

A tip: break down the main research question into several subquestions. In this way, it will be much easier to find relevant information on each specific topic and you will advance faster in your research. In addition, once the central topic and the research questions have been chosen, it is always a good idea to state who the beneficiaries of the research are to make it clear who the study is for.

  1. Bibliographic review TFG: Compilation of bibliography
    This section begins, normally, with the online information search. Using the appropriate keywords is very important when it comes to finding the right information about your research field. It is also a good idea to look up the terms in both Spanish and English to have a much wider search area.

There are many types of databases where you can explore to find information. Here we detail some:

  • The online catalog of your university’s library. Most academic libraries have a large number of physical resources such as books, magazines, newspapers, etc. However, many of them have expanded their offer and also offer electronic resources, including articles and academic databases for your bibliographic review.
  • Google Scholar Via you will reach the Google search engine specialized in academic literature. If an article is not accessible or is paid, you can try to access it through the library of your university.
  • Databases specific to a country. Some databases are specific to each country. For example, MEDES is the specific database for the field of medicine in Spain.
  • Multidisciplinary databases. Databases such as JSTOR and EBSCO (in English) are digital libraries that include magazines, books and other primary resources, in a wide variety of subjects.
  • Specific databases. There are several databases that focus on a specific discipline (or a group of related disciplines). An example of this is the AGRIS database, which covers a wide range of topics related to agriculture and the environment.

When you have found a useful source remember to check the references that have been used previously to find more related information. Does the name of the same author appear all the time? It is probably a sign that that person has researched a lot about the subject and it is useful to review their publications and to see if you can add that information to your bibliographic review.

  1. Literature review TFG: Evaluation and selection of bibliography
    It is more than likely to end with a lot of literature and documentation on the chosen topic. Since you only have a limited time, it is important that you focus on the information of the most relevant sources. We advise you to classify the documentation according to relevance and then according to scientific quality.


A relevant publication is one that fits perfectly with your topic or research question. To determine the relevance of a book or an article without having read it in its entirety, start with the introduction and conclusion of it. In most cases, these sections will offer you enough information to judge whether the publication is relevant to your bibliographic review or not.


The quality of a publication is determined by a large number of factors. As a general rule, try to use only articles that have been published in important journals. Also, reviewing the authors’ experience can also be helpful. That is, usually expert authors try to use only articles that are affiliated with an academic institution, published and, frequently, cited by other authors.

Keep in mind that the information you get from the internet is not always reliable; with the exception of those documents that are published on the website of a scientific, governmental or intergovernmental institution. In addition, it is important that you use recent information; if you do not, you run the risk of basing your bibliographic review on outdated information.

  1. Literature review TFG: Elaboration
    Once you have identified the documentation in which you will focus to make your TFG for bibliographic review, you must process that information. To begin, try to answer these questions:
  • What is the problem to investigate and how does the existing information approach it?
  • What are the key concepts?
  • What theories and models do the authors use?
  • What are the conclusions and results of the investigations?
  • How does a publication compare with the rest?
  • How can I apply this research to my own literature review?
  • Analyzing these aspects will make you have a clearer picture of where your research is going. Thus, it will be easier for you to carry out a bibliographic review in a more critical and fundamental way.

From here, you can develop the results and conclusions of your work with the answers to the previous questions. Keep in mind that these results should not be a mere summary of the information found, but you should compare the various studies with each other, relate the approaches of the authors and try to answer each question and sub question posed at the beginning of the review of the GFR.

How should I refer to my sources?

The references on the bibliography used must be precise. Many colleges use the citation style of the American Psychological Association (APA). You can use the Scribbr APA Generator to create your own references quickly and correctly.

Otherwise, if you do not refer to your sources in an appropriate manner, the information you have used will be considered plagiarized. Plagiarism, in turn, is considered fraud and has severe repercussions. Do you have questions or need help? Check your document for plagiarism, because … Better safe than sorry!

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