Friday, September 27, 2019

Literature Review: Some Quick Tips

Prior to conducting a certain research, you must conduct a literature review. This means you need to review any existing material i.e. books, journal articles, conference papers, newspaper, online resources, reliable conversations etc and summarize the information into a compact writing. This would be invaluable references for your research work.

But for most postgraduate students, time may not always be on your side. There are just too many articles to read, to understand and to summarize. Or sometimes we are just too lazy. So here are some tips on how to effectively conduct a literature review without losing any important information:

1. Use suitable search engines for resources. The simplest and easiest one is Google Scholar. Use the chosen keywords and keep it short and simple. For instance, if your research is about the gasification of biomass fuels in a downdraft gasifier, the keywords would be 'gasification', 'biomass' and 'downdraft'. This will give you a more precise search result.

2. Bear in mind to always go through the most recent articles first. What was said 10 years ago could be proven wrong recently. The best time range is 3-5 years backward. This will provide you a better insight into the current trends in your research and also newer information.

3. If you don't have access to the full text, always try ResearchGate. Some authors put their publications in there for free. Just google the title of the publication and look for ResearchGate entry.

4. Always refer to established and reliable publishers, preferably with Q1 or Q2 ranking. The journals from these publishers were strictly vetted, critically reviewed and continuously amended to meet the high standards of publication. This means the information within them is highly reliable.

5. Don't always trust the title since sometimes it may be misleading. Go through the content roughly to see what's it all about.

6. Always read the abstract first, and then proceed to the conclusion. This is to see if the article fits the information you need and worth a read. If it does, place the article in the pool of resources you will definitely need to cite. Otherwise, put it aside for later reading, in case some of the information may be useful later on.

7. Only read one article at a time. Extract the information you need in a Word file and directly mark the citation so you won't lose track of its origin that may lead to misciting.

8. If the article satisfies your needs, you might want to look for other articles by the same author(s). Chances are that you will find their other publications helpful too.

Hope that helps!

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