Writing Literature Reviews: Best Practices and Tips
Reviewing the relevant literature is essential after settling on a research area/topic and developing a research question. A review of the literature is a critical synopsis of all the works that have been written about a certain subject. The research and writing process can only proceed with a thorough literature evaluation. A well-done literature review can lead to numerous positive outcomes.
Science Careers recently invited several scientists to address the importance of staying abreast of relevant literature in their profession. For example, Dr. Denis Bauer’s statement spoke to me. According to Dr. Bauer, following the latest research is the most important skill for any researcher. You can only expect your research to be immediately mentioned if you know where the holes exist.
There is also another significant advantage of conducting a comprehensive literature study. The literature review is essential to any scientific work intended for publication in a peer-reviewed journal. To impress the journal editor and referees, show them you’ve done your homework by writing a comprehensive literature review.
As a result, a well-executed literature review is crucial to the success of any research work. While conducting a literature evaluation, you may discover that more research needs to be published in the field of study. But this may be different. Every year, scientists around the world produce an additional 2.5 million peer-reviewed journal papers. Therefore, it is improbable that you are contemplating a study issue that no one else has worked on or published about inside your discipline. (However, when little or no study has been conducted, this may be a regular and frustrating experience for researchers working on highly specialized or specific elements of an issue in their field.)
What, then, possibly prevent you from locating pertinent literature if it isn’t a matter of accessibility? How you’ve been looking is likely to be corrected more. You should not feel obligated to provide a lengthy list of references once you’ve finished writing your manuscript. However, the literature you review for your study needs to reflect the state of the field at the time of your research. What should you do if you need help to track down any functional studies? Follow these guidelines to jumpstart your literature review:
1) You should widen your search.
You have spent several days, perhaps weeks, considering your study question. Therefore, it’s probable that you’re limiting your thinking too much. You may have very specific parameters in mind for your research question. This means you can miss out on research topics related to your work but need a direct link.
You want to know if plastic can be made compostable, so focus your research on that issue. Despite spending considerable time researching online, you have only found two documents. The odds are in your favor. You’ve seen the vacuum in knowledge in this field and know that your research will fill it. With this advantage, you’ll be able to make a bigger impact and highlight the significance of your effort. Yet here you are, fretting over the contents of your literature review.
2) Use appropriate keywords in your content.
Your search for useful resources may have needed to be improved using unrelated terms. Your keyword phrases should be well-thought-out and directed at the precise academic papers you want. After formulating a research question, it’s time to break it down into its parts and assign keywords to each. To narrow your search to childhood schizophrenia, you may use terms like “schizophrenia,” “early onset schizophrenia,” “schizophrenia in children,” or “early symptoms of schizophrenia.”
3) Read the articles you locate carefully to determine their relevance.
It may be to your advantage to be restricted to a few sources; this will provide you with a more manageable and thorough list of articles from which to draw information. Since there is no need to check every reference, you can carefully consider each item. It would be best if you didn’t have to be picky or fear that you could overlook an article crucial to your research.
4) If you do locate articles, use their references as a guide.
Cite citations are provided to help readers find the past relevant study in a field. When you include a reference or citation, you show your appreciation for the work of other authors whose work you have used. Forward and backward searching allows readers to follow an article’s citations differently. The reference lists of the articles you’ve found might be useful to learn more about the topic. Backward searching is a technique that can help you uncover additional articles that are pertinent to your research.
5) Put out an SOS
Don’t be proud to ask for assistance if you’ve exhausted all other options. First, contact a librarian if your school library subscribes to your required journal. Find the journal that published the papers you found and look for others like them there. A professor, supervisor, or senior coworker would also be good consulting resources. They’ve been in your shoes before, so they have some ideas about handling the situation more effectively. Whenever you feel lost, it is OK to approach them for assistance.