Step 1 – Students will realize there are too much content & most of the top ones are very old
Thematically – based on theme
Some slides extracted from Dr. Hans Gray
Process of searching, understanding, &
documenting related set of contents on a
• Includes academic papers, books, industry
articles, news papers, Wikis, blogs, etc.
Cedalion standing on the shoulders of Orion from Blind Orion Searching for the Rising
Sun by Nicolas Poussin, 1658, Oil on canvas
“Dwarfs standing on the shoulders of
• Metaphor meaning “One who develops future
intellectual pursuits by understanding the research
& works created by notable thinkers of the past”
“If I have seen further it is only by standing
on the shoulders of giants.” ― Isaac
“Those who don't know history are doomed
to repeat it.” ― Edmund Burke
To find a solution to a problem
• We learn from & build on what others have done
• Today’s studies build on those of yesterday!
To make sure work you are trying to do
hasn’t already been done
Distinguish what has been done from what needs to be
Discover important variables relevant to topic
Synthesize & gain a new perspective
Identify relationships between ideas & practice
Establish context of topic or problem
Rationalize significance of problem
Enhance & acquiring subject vocabulary
Identify methodologies & techniques that have been used
Place research in a historical context to show familiarity
with state-of-the-art developments
Analysis of problem in relation to existing
• Depth of the problem
• How my solution can be unique?
During project work
• Design parameters
• Experiment/simulation setup
While writing thesis
Peer reviewed journals
Articles in encyclopedias, hand books
News papers, news letters, magazines
Documents, project reports
Experts & consultants
On-line sources of information
• Wiki, Blogs, Forum, Twitter
Other research indexes & online databases
Government document collections
• National Archives
Government departments & institutions
• NERD, NSF, ITI
Resources centers run by foreign missions
• British Council, Russian Cultural Center, American
Center, Practical Action
Suppose your are interested in “online
payments using virtual currencies”
1. Go to Google Scholar & search for “virtual
• Note title, date, source, no of citations
• Are results are all over the place?
• Let’s be more specific in selecting search terms
2. Search for “virtual currency payments”
• Better not miss fundamental papers
3. Search for more recent papers
• Papers within last 2-3 years
• Select ones to read should be based on title,
citations, then later by abstract
• Look for recurrent terms/words
• See the word “BitCoin”?
4. Search for “BitCoin”
• Lot more related results
5. Expand search
• Looks at citations of a paper – these are related
• Look for related work from same authors, others,
& supporting & opposing arguments
Google Scholar has a “Save” link
Use a tool
Browser-based research tool
Help you collect, organize, search, cite, & share your
• Mendeley & Qiqqa
Web & desktop based
Most university libraries have access
After a while
• You don’t remember where your ideas came from
You better not miss key/all citations
• All your sources are mixed up
Styles are complicated
• Hundreds of styles of references
• Conferences & journals have their own styles &
reviewers are strict on style
As you read widely, but selectively in your topic
area, consider what themes or issues connect your
Do they present one or different solutions?
Is there an aspect that is missing?
How well do they present material & portray it
according to an appropriate theory?
Do they reveal a trend in the field?
Is there a raging debate?
Pick one of these themes to focus the organization
of your review
Document ideas in a suitable form
• Use cases
• Parameter space
• Alternative designs
• Just list them down
• Note cards
• Mind maps
• Rich pictures
You got a focus, & narrowed it down to a
What is the most effective way of
What are the most important topics,
What order should you present them?
Introduction or background
• Central theme
Body containing discussion of sources
• Organized either chronologically, thematically,
Conclusion and/or recommendations
• Where we need to go from here
Accepted facts in the area
Relationship between concepts & variables
Shortcomings in existing findings
• Limitations in methods used in existing findings
Relevance of your research
Suggestions for further research
One of the first researchers to investigate this problem is
Chen . . .
Smith and Jones counter Chen’s argument . . .
The issue becomes more complex when a third school of
thought is considered . . .
One researcher who agrees with Chen is . . .
A different approach to this question looks at problems in X
One of the most troublesome problems is addressed by
Green . . .
A problem with this approach is that . . .
A recent study adds this to the mix . . .
A crucial issue that has not been addressed is z . . .
What are you planning to do?
Why is it important?
How are you planning to do it?
Answer these 3 questions in a suitable
Write a single paragraph
Refine it as you understand the research
Get stuck while writing it?
• It means you are still not clear about the research
• If so, think, read, & analyze more, talk to others
• Then give it another try
Is a synthesis of
Is a critical evaluation
breadth & depth
Has clarity &
Uses rigorous &
Confined to description
Narrow & shallow
Constructed in an
Vagueness due to too much or inappropriate
Very narrow focus
Omission of contrasting view
Omission of recent work
• Work carried out during last 2 years
Lack of a clear flow
Use of big words