Annual Reviews: Keeping current with timely, critical research reviews

We live in an exciting time with access to TONS of information about anything and everything…hence the popular phrase: ‘information overload’. Case in point, there seems to be some irony in this Google search:

Google search for 'information overload'

Search results retrieved 10/14/15.


Of course there are some, such as Clay Shirky, who argue that the problem is not necessarily information overload, but rather “filter failure” (he made this point during his keynote address at the Web 2.0 Expo back in 2008).  Since the cost of publishing and producing content is so low nowadays, there is no check on the content’s quality.  Hence, tons of information is ‘out there’, but we don’t always have the best tools and systems to filter through it and know where to devote our energy.

Unsurprisingly, people who are able to access subscription resources (like library databases) have a leg up in that they at least can access a collection of peer-reviewed materials, vetted by a specific process, and as such deemed more credible in the academic world. But even then, there is so much content to sift through!

How do you know the primary contributors to your field of study? What are the recent research trends?

One useful resource in Fielding’s library to help answer some of these questions is a collection of journals called ‘Annual Reviews‘.  As they explain on their ‘overview’ page, Annual Reviews “critically reviews the most significant primary research literature to guide researchers to the principal contributions of their field and help them keep up to date in their area of research.” Reviews in each subject area are-yes, you guessed it-published annually.

While Fielding’s subscription does not include all subjects covered by Annual Reviews, it does encompass the major subject areas most pertinent to our programs of study.  These include:

  • Anthropology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Environment and Resources
  • Law and Social Science
  • Political Science
  • Psychology
  • Public Health
  • Sociology

So how can you access and take advantage of these little gems?

Easy! Simply follow the ‘databases’ link on the main library website and select ‘Annual Reviews’ from the alphabetical list:



Once connected, navigate to the ‘browse journals’ section in the center of the page.  Any journal identified with a green check mark is available to you–just click on the title to connect to its content:


After you select a journal you can take advantage of many features.  Of course, you can view the content of the latest issue (or select to view past issues) and connect to full-text.  You can also use some handy tools such as the ‘most cited reviews’ or ‘featured reviews’ to discover some of the publication’s most popular content.


When viewing the full-text HTML version of an article (when available) you can access additional features such as viewing figures, related reviews, and more.

Annual Reviews, as most journals and databases, also allows you to sign up to receive alerts when new articles or tables of contents are published.

Want to learn more?  Check out the Annual Reviews Tutorials page to access video, PDF, and PowerPoint tutorials on navigating this collection.

Whether you want to keep informed of the latest research in your field, or gain some background information in a certain discipline, be sure to add Annual Reviews to your list of resources to consult. They have done much of the work of filtering through the loads of information related to a particular subject, allowing you to focus on the highlights, major discoveries, and trends.

Happy Searching!

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