Typically, a literature review involves the following steps:
Select a research topic - A general starting point is crucial, but you will refine your research question as you discover potential problems to be solved or questions to answer. Summon and Google Scholar are excellent tools for basic searching, and your early results can provide keywords, subject terms, and other language that you can add to modified searches.
Search the literature - Choose pertinent databases from the library's A to Z Databases, and retrieve the articles and information that represent seminal research in your discipline, current research being done, and related research in your field or other fields. Pay attention to article bibliographies/references, which often provide many more relevant articles. Be sure to document your searches and save your citations to a citation management tools such as Mendeley or Zotero.
Share with your advisor - When you have collected all relevant articles, share your bibliography with your advisor, who can determine areas needing further support, or branches of relevant research that you had not thought about.
Read and analyze - This step encompasses a few parts: initial overview of abstracts and summaries to determine subject areas or subtopics of the research; critical readings to determine relevance to your research question; and analysis of the research that includes writing a very brief note summarizing the key points and contributions of each paper.
Write the review - The review is written as a critical evaluation which thoroughly communicates not just an overview of the subject matter, but more importantly the connections among the literature and your understanding of its relevance.
Include a bibliography - The literature review should include citations for each of the works discussed. RefWorks or Mendeley is your friend here, as your lengthy list of citations can be formatted automatically in the style of your choice.
Machi, L. A., & McEvoy, B. T. (2009). The literature review: Six steps to success. Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Corwin Press.
Pautasso, M. Ten simple rules for writing a literature review. Ed. Philip E. Bourne. PLoS Computational Biology 9.7 (2013): e1003149.
The Literature Review Search Process
1. Start your search:
Summon - A search engine that searches most of the library's databases simultaneously. It also allows you to expand your search to other libraries' collection. To learn more about Summon, look at this research guide: How to use Summon
Google Scholar - Find Florida Tech journal articles and books in Google Scholar by configuring preferences in Google Scholar. For instructions, view this video from NCSU libraries. (Note: Under Settings/Library links, check off all with Florida Institute of Technology.) After doing this, whenever you do a search in Google Scholar, click on "Find @ Florida Tech" for direct access to articles from our licensed databases.You will need your Florida Tech/Tracks log in info to access these resources.
2. Refine your search by searching specific resources (databases, journals, and ebooks):
A to Z Databases - Search for articles in individual databases, or search by Subject to limit to your area of research.
A to Z Journals - Search for individual journal and newspaper publications. Limit by Subject to search your area of research. The A to Z Journals site is great for looking at a specific journal or newspaper. Tutorial: Finding Journals in the Library
A to Z eBooks - Find the full text of all our online books.
3. Save your references/citations:
Citation Managers - This guide contains recommended information about citation managers such as
4. Advanced searching techniques:
Effective, efficient searches retrieve the items that are most closely matched to your research, reducing the time that you will have to spend evaluating the results.
Web of Science and Scopus - Use these "citation" databases of peer-reviewed literature to find a list of citations/references an author has used in his/her article or book and the publications and authors that cite the article/chapter. By examining who has been cited you can quickly build up a picture of the main contributors to knowledge on your topic, and what resources (journals, articles, books) are best to use.
Not finding in our collection the materials/resources you need? Here are other ways/places you can get them.