PHYS455 - Engineering Physics Thesis: What is a Literature Review?
A literature review is a systematic approach to searching and analyzing published research on a specific topic or question.
A literature review is generally conducted at the beginning of a research project. If the project is ongoing over a long period of time, further searches may be necessary in order to include the latest published research.
The scope of the literature review depends on the research project. In general, a comprehensive literature review for an engineering research project includes searching journals and conference papers, review articles, technical reports, patents, theses and books. Other types of literature also may be included.
Literature Review Outline
- Formulate a well-defined research question.
- Extract the key concepts and terms from your research question.
- Brainstorm additional terms and synonyms.
- Develop your literature review plan.
- Select the appropriate databases for your question.
- Search your keywords in the selected databases. Note: it's a good idea to keep a log of your searches, including the date, database, keywords and articles retrieved. This allows you to keep track of databases searched, useful search strategies, key terms and controlled vocabulary.
- Review retrieved articles (patents, technical reports, etc.). Refine your keywords and repeat your search as necessary.
- Save the documents that are relevant to your topic.
- Organize the retrieved documents into categories such as "Very Relevant", "Relevant", and "Related".
Last Updated: 28 September 2011