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This content is taken from the University of Wollongong's online course, Research Writing: How to Do a Literature Review. Join the course to learn more.

Skip to 0 minutes and 12 seconds The first step that I actually used for a literature review was to actually look at my own topic and then think about what’s the actual problem that my research has. So once I identified my problem statement, I try to narrow it down and try to make it as precise as possible to the extent where I can start my research. So once my research question was ready, then I created a couple of queries and started off with a Scopus database search. So I created for queries based on 12 keywords that was an integral part of my topic so that I don’t miss out on anything.

Skip to 0 minutes and 56 seconds So first based on those four queries, I researched and then came up with 986 researches of available topics and research papers that I need to look into further. Then I imported all the research that I did in Scopus into a note so I can have an annotated bibliography later on.

Skip to 1 minute and 20 seconds So one of the first things that I’d look to do with literature review is to make use of technology, and in particular search technology to narrow down what would be the seminal papers and to understand and maybe profile the authors for those seminal papers as well. I think the first step would be to– well, I guess like an annotated bibliography would be the very first step. But then that’s sort of the research aspect, I suppose. But then taking that and looking at themes, different themes, and grouping authors’ works that way. I’ll definitely be using bibliographic software and any tools and tips and tricks that can help me along the way.

Skip to 2 minutes and 15 seconds I thank my supervisor because she advised me to use the software which allows you to store your queries and whatever bibliography you have created for further references and also to update it later on. So in the software version, it’s always there and easily accessible. At the moment, I’m using the IEEE referencing style. I think it’s the most common referencing style for engineering area. And I’m using the EndNote software to manage my bibliography and reference. So I use the UOW variant of the Harvard Author-date style. So my referencing style will be APA sixth edition. And I’m not too concerned about referencing style because I will be making use of the software to allow for various styles to be output.

Getting the process started

Have problem, will find information

With the right tools and strategies, we can quickly find and store information, but the process of finding and selecting good sources is also helped by starting with a statement of the specific problem the research project as a whole will be investigating. Research problems and driving questions develop and clarify during the process of reviewing the literature, but it helps to begin with some articulation of these things, as well as the basic topic search terms.

In the video, some research students are talking about how they began their review of literature, and why they use bibliographic software. As you listen to them, think about how their experience is similar or different to your own.

Conversation starter

  • Which referencing style do you need to use?
  • Does your review need to be comprehensive or very narrowly focused?

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This video is from the free online course:

Research Writing: How to Do a Literature Review

University of Wollongong