You will first want to determine a topic for your review. If you are working on an assignment, this may be provided for you or determined by the field you are studying. Your topic may also be inspired by a friend, family member, patient, or client you have worked with, an area you are interested in, or an area where you have seen conflicting data, results, or recommendations. Run a simple search to see if the topic has been thoroughly explored.
Next, identify your question. Mind mapping or brainstorming may be helpful. It is helpful to write the question as a question rather than a statement. Your question should also be neutral rather than biased in one direction or another. Finally, your question should be answerable within the timeframe you have for your project and with the resources you have available to you.
Once you begin searching, you may decide your question is too broad or too narrow. It is okay to refine your question after you have started investigating the literature.
In this step, you will find materials relevant to the subject you are exploring. Keep in mind, not all databases are created equally. They may have different focuses and include different types of materials. A librarian may be very helpful in determining which databases will be most helpful for your query and in creating an effective search for the database you are searching. The librarian can also help you determine effective keywords for your search.
When searching, be sure to utilize synonyms and alternative terms in your search. You may miss pertinent resources if you do not use alternative terms. Instead of searching for "child", you could search for "child AND children AND kid AND kids AND pediatric AND pediatrics AND paediatric AND paediatrics AND adolescent AND adolescents"... You will have far more results when you combine search terms instead of searching for a single term.
Be sure you understand how to properly combine search terms. For more information about combining search terms and other search techniques, check out the site below:
A Literature Matrix may assist you in this step!
Next, you will want to evaluate the data you have found to determine which literature makes a significant contribution to your understanding of the topic you are searching.
Read through the articles you have selected to include in your literature review. Take notes, in your own words, of the pertinent details, being sure that you know which details came from which sources.
From: Mongan-Rallis H. Guidelines for writing a literature review. URL https://www.duluth.umn.edu/~hrallis/guides/researching/litreview.html. Updated April 19, 2018. Accessed January 11, 2019.
When reading through, be sure to think about the following:
This is the step where you put it all together. You will discuss the findings and conclusions of the pertinent literature.
Even if your literature review is not a stand-alone paper, it should include the following structure, to establish a logical flow for your reader:
For Help With Searching
About Literature Reviews
A Few Literature Review Examples