Library & Learning CentreDoing your literature review: an overview Katy Jordan Librarian, Social & Policy Sciences
Outline of session• What is a literature review?• Why review the literature?• Identifying the literature - where do you start?• Searching the literature • Online indexes • Statistical sources • Subject gateways• Sourcing the documents• Reading – getting the gist• Evaluating what you read• A good literature review…• More help and guidance• Exercise
What is a literature review?“… a systematic…method for identifying, evaluating and interpreting the …work produced by researchers, scholars and practitioners.”FINK, A., 1998. Conducting literature research reviews: from paper to the internet. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage., p.3.
Why review the literature?“…without it you will not acquire an understanding of your topic, of what has already been done on it, how it has been researched, and what the key issues are.”HART, E., 1998. Doing a literature review: releasing the social science research imagination, by E. Hart and M. Bond. London: Sage., p.1.
Identifying the literature – where do you start?• Define your research area• Essay/dissertation title• Break this down into key areas• Choose search terms (keywords) that express those areas• This will be your search strategyExampleDissertation: An examination of incidences of sex discrimination among employees of the University of BathKey areas: GENDER ISSUES and WORKPLACE ISSUES and DISCRIMINATIONSearch terms: gender AND workplace AND discrimination
Identifying the literature – where do you start?2. What sort of literature will there be?• Different indexes cover different types of literature – there is no single source you can search…Literature Example of indexes/resourcesJournal articles – print/online IBSS, Web of Knowledge, ZETOCConference papers – print/online ISI Proceedings, ZETOCMonographs (books) COPACDictionaries/encyclopaedias COPAC, Library catalogueReports – print and online COPAC, SOSIGTheses/dissertations – Bath/elsewhere Index to Theses, Lib catalogueStatistics – print and online UK Statistics online, ESDS, Eurostat, Stats collection‘Grey literature’ – print and online SOSIGEmail discussion lists/online forums JISCmail website
Identifying the literature – where do you start?1. Choose your sources of information• Sources of information for social sciences• Resources for your subjectExamples• For journal articles • Web of Knowledge SSCI • International Bibliography of the Social Sciences• For books – COPAC• For theses – Library catalogue; Index to Theses• For reports and grey literature – SOSIG• For statistics – UK statistics site, Eurostat, Library statistics collection, ESDS
Searching the literatureSample searches• Web of Knowledge• COPAC• UK Statistics• SOSIG
Source your documentsFrom an online index• Available online? – click on Links button• Available in Library? – click on Links buttonOR if your online index doesn’t have the Links button• Available online? – check the A-Z of e-journals• Available in Library? – check the Library catalogueIF your document is not online or in the Library• Use Inter-Library Loans to get a photocopy or borrow a book from the British Library
Reading - getting the gist• Check the introduction, conclusion, abstract or executive summary for the main points• Check contents pages of books and reports – pick out relevant chapters/sections• Use the index of books or reports• First or last sentences of paragraphs often summarise
Evaluating what you readThink about…• Relevance to your topic• Intended audience• Currency of the information• Coverage of the topic that the information provides• Accuracy of the information• Authority of the author or information source• Level of objectivity of the author
Record your sources• Download references from online indexes• Keep systematic notes of the full records – use A guide to citing references• This will form the basis of your bibliography for your dissertation• A good method is bibliographic software – the SORTED programme offers training in • Reference manager • Endnote• Keep a note of the content of each document• e.g. ‘Includes discussion of the idea of originality in postgraduate research projects.’
A good literature review…• Goes beyond simply listing relevant literature• Is a critical essay• Refers to the bibliography at the end of your dissertation• Assesses the range of literature available• Is a critical summary of the literature• Examines the background against which your own research is set• Forms a significant section of your dissertation
A good literature review…• Offers opinions and personal response to the different writings• Relates different writings to each other, compares and contrasts• Does not take the literature at face value• Shows an awareness of the theories and values that underpin the research• Uses particular language: authors assert, argue, state, conclude, contend
More help and guidance• Books on social science research techniques at 300.001.5• Resources for your subject• A guide to citing references• Your librarian in L5.01• Your dissertation supervisor
Exercise• Choose your research area and pick your search terms• Use different sources to find ONE example of each type of literature in your subject area:- • Journal article • Monograph (book) • Report • Thesis/dissertation HINT: Use Resources for your subject• Note down the bibliographic reference for each document HINT: use A guide to citing references• How would you get access to each document? • Access online? • Find in University library • Use Inter-Library Loans?