Books for Senior Thesis and Research Help

Badke, W. (2008). Research strategies: Finding your way through the information fog. New York: iUniverse, Inc. [University Library Reserves - Z 710 B34X 2008]
The primary focus of this text is use of library resources. Badke explains the place of books, catalogs, and other library tools and resources in students’ research activities. He presents a model for research, with a brief explanation of the structure of research questions and thesis statements. Two substantial chapters detail the use of key words and controlled vocabularies.

Booth, W., Colomb, G., & Williams, J. (2008). The craft of research. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. [University Library Reference: Q 180.55 M4 B66 2008]
This text aims to meet needs of all researchers, from undergraduates to advanced graduate students and those in the business world; the book retains value for scholarship beyond undergraduate years. Clear examples show paths from early identification of research interests to formulating broad research topics and developing focused questions that help define the problem to be addressed. The authors explain steps in developing arguments, explaining claims, evidence, and warrants as building blocks in crafting effective arguments. Concrete examples of writing tasks are provided. A chapter on the visual communication of data shows examples of simple charts, tables, and supporting evidence. The text concludes with a substantive appendix of reference sources in multiple disciplines, a good starting point for background information and identification of valuable library resources.

Craswell, G. & Poore, M. Writing for academic success. London: SAGE [University Library - LB 2369 C73X 2012]
See these second edition sections for writing assistance: logically structuring and linking paragraphs through sound structure; building, developing, and strengthening arguments; writing business, experimental, technical, and other types of reports; managing the development and writing of your thesis; mastering the delivery of presentations; and considerations for professional publication.

Fowler, A. (2006). How to write. New York: Oxford University Press. [University Library - PE 1408 F548 2006]
This text is helpful to inspire confidence in those who may find writing difficult. Although practical sections show options and suggestions for quoting, punctuation, and more, it is not a quick look up guide that provides correct and incorrect answers for elements of writing. Instead, the philosophies contained within are helpful in understanding the writing process and developing a sense of style.

Lester, J.D. & Lester, J.D., Jr. (2011). Principles of writing research papers. Boston: Longman [University Library - LB 2369 L393 2011]
Notable sections in this third edition text include developing ideas for and refining subjects by identifying primary issues, writing a thesis statement, understanding academic integrity and plagiarism, using academic and discipline-specific writing models and styles, properly citing and quoting source materials, and using library and other resources.

Lipson, C. (2005). How to write a BA thesis: A practical guide from your first ideas to your finished paper. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. [University Library Reference - LB 2369 L54 2005]
This practical guide about writing an undergraduate thesis places heavy emphasis on planning aspects. Detailed sections describe good practices for taking notes and avoiding plagiarism; writing effective openings, conclusions, and transitions along with presenting information visually are strengths of this text. Timelines for thesis activities provide guidance for developing a personal schedule.

Ng, Pedro Pak-tao. (2003). Effective writing: A guide for social science students. Hong Kong: The Chinese University Press. [University Library - PE 1479 S62 N48X 2003]
This book aims to guide students in effectively acquiring effective writing skills. A detailed Table of Contents provides good access to content. Numerous examples illustrate good practices in organizing material, citing sources, writing report findings, and revising. Rules of grammar and word selection guidelines are helpful for students who need additional assistance in those areas. Although titled for social science student audiences, this work is applicable to any student working on a research paper although the examples are drawn from the social sciences. Style guides referenced are from the American Psychological (APA) and the American Sociological associations (ASA). Particularly helpful and unique is the appendix of over 100 pages of assistance for the selection of words and phrases.

Russey, W., Ebel, H., & Bliefert, C. (2006). How to write a successful science thesis: The concise guide for students. Weinheim: Wiley-VCH. [University Library - LB 2369 R87X 2006]
This text, clearly targeted to students in the sciences, begins with a description of the laboratory notebook and use of it to plan research activities for a thesis. Numerous examples provide guides for laboratory notebook content, structure, and management. Part II details components of theses. Examples related to the Table of Contents, introductory sections, the abstract, defining the problem, results, discussion, and the experimental section provide models for organizing these components. Special considerations for science theses include the proper use of numbers, units, mathematical expressions and equations, tables, and figures.

Thomas, R. M. & Brubaker, D. (2008). Theses and dissertations: A guide to planning, research, and writing. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press. [University Library - LB 2369 T458X 2008]
Detailed lists of research projects, survey topics, and research methods highlight options that support the example projects presented in this text with advantages and limitations specific to options presented. Procedures, resources, purposes, and definitions of research methods are particularly valuable to readers who are comparing the fit of one research method over another. Data gathering techniques and instruments provide practical recommendations for data collection and presentation of data.

Van Wagenen, R.K. (1991). Writing a thesis: Substance and style. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Sage Publications. [University Library - LB 2369 V257 1991]
Steps in determining a research topic and developing a research problem depict the thinking needed for getting started in developing a thesis. Questions and commentary positioned alongside sample text provide real examples of considerations to ensure writing is clear, succinct, and flows well. Several chapters address writing method, results, and discussion sections accompanied by numerous example tables and charts.

Walliman, N. (2011). Your research project: A step-by-step guide for the first-time researcher. London: Sage Publications. [University Library - LB 2369 W26 2005]
As stated in the title, this text walks the reader through the process of planning, conceptually envisioning, and managing a research project. Written for students in the social sciences, business, environmental studies, and humanities, it is both practical and offers a theoretical basis as it sets specific objectives for each chapter and provides exercises to further illustrate specific points. This text prepares students for the decisions required in the execution of a research project.

Note: Edition designations are omitted in this list due to frequent changes. As of the Web page maintenance date, the dates of these works are the most recent dates available in the University Libraries. Submit recommendations for additions to this list.

Chart Comparing Recommended Texts

Recommended books for literature reviews

Recommendations for University Libraries’ owned books follow; these may be helpful for multidisciplinary topics.  For literature reviews specific to a subject area, you may want to consult with the subject librarian for that discipline.  Ask for recommended texts for literature reviews for undergraduates who are writing an honors thesis or for those graduate students working on their master’s thesis.  See the list of contacts on the University Libraries Web page:

Note:  Ensure that you follow any instruction from your professor for format, content, etc.  The books that follow provide background for your literature review work.  Please e-mail me titles of other books that have helped you; I will add them to this list.

Hart, C. (1998). Doing a literature review: Releasing the social science research imagination. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications. [University Library H62 H2568X 1998]

Hart’s text includes a rubric, Table 1.5, identifying excellent and distinctive work: Criteria for assessing a master’s dissertation.  The literature review and evaluation section of this rubric details the criteria that need to be met to be considered outstanding.  Per Hart (1998, p. 15), for undergraduate projects, literature reviews are “[E]ssentially descriptive, topic focused; mostly indicative of main, current sources on the topic.  Analysis is of the topic in terms of justification.” Chapter 2 goes on to a more detailed explanation of the purpose of the review in research.  Guidelines for planning work on a literature review are helpful to get started.  Although based in the social sciences, examples with clarifying notes may be applicable to other disciplines.  These notes critically examine what works and does not work in the examples provided.   

Machi, L.A., & McEvoy, B. T. (2012).   The literature review: Six steps to success.  Thousand Oaks: Corwin Press, Inc.  [University Library Reference: LB 1047.3 M33 2012]

The focus of the text is for graduate students in education and the social sciences who are working on a research project, thesis, or dissertation.  Organized in a step-by-step format, the authors outline steps:  selecting a topic, searching the literature, developing the argument, critiquing the literature, and writing the review.  Each step is developed in detail in the six book chapters.  Elements of the text that provide helpful points of reference include process diagrams, task lists, tips for researchers new to the process of creating literature reviews, exercises that test the readers’ understanding of steps in the process, key vocabulary definitions, and checklists at the end of each chapter to reinforce tasks described in that chapter. 

Ridley, D. (2012). The literature review: A step-by-step guide for students.  Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications, Inc.  [University Library Reference: LB2369 R525 2012]

The Introduction and Chapter 2 of this book define the literature review, detail different types of literature reviews and their purposes, and describe how these reviews fit into a student’s research.   Many examples illustrate the use of literature reviews in different contexts.  A significant portion of the text is dedicated to research management and tools as well as how and what to search for literature review sources.  The section dedicated to writing the literature review includes an explanation of in-text citations, references, and developing a critical viewpoint.

Updated: April 7, 2016
Maintained by Jean McLaughlin, University at Albany/SUNY