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A guide for Fall 2020 Educ846 Collection and Analysis of Data for Decision Making

What are Literature Reviews? Why do them?

This clip offers a great overview of a research process.  Here are a few main points:

  • Research is a conversation that evolves with every article and conference paper produced. The threads of that conversation are tracked in the citations that refer back to works that have come before.
  • A literature review is not a single, linear process. You will need to keep good track of your searches, and stay organized along the way.
  • Gold standard for source credibility is peer review. This signifies that experts on the topic of the article have reviewed it and provided some quality control before it has been published.
  • Start by exploring the background of your topic using general sources. 
  • Identify the range of possible articles in your area of interest before you move into deep reading of the articles.  
  • Establish a method of staying organized. See the RefWorks tab for information on how this tool can help you stay organized. 
  • When doing your deep reading, ask yourself about how each article relates to the others you have found, and maintain a critical stance.
  • Deep reading of the articles may point you to other sources. See the Known Item Searching tab for how to search by citation.
  • Consider writing in small batches as you are synthesizing the relationships between sources so as not to become overwhelmed. There are several ways to organize the literature review: by themes is one common method.

The point of doing a lit review is to establish what is already known about the topic, to situate your project within that conversation, and to establish the need that your project can fill.