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CSTEP Summer Research Program Library Resources Guide: Writing Literature Reviews

This Guide is intended for students in UB's CSTEP Summer Research Program. It contains links to library research resources, as well as contact information for the Engineering Librarian.
Last Updated: Sep 7, 2021 10:16 AM

Lit Review Intro

Literature Review: it is a product and a process.

As a product, it is a carefully written examination, interpretation, evaluation, and synthesis of the published literature related to your topic. It focuses on what is known about your topic and what methodologies, models, theories, and concepts have been applied to it by others.
 

Why is it important?

  • Shows that you understand and have drawn upon the relevant body of knowledge in your field.
  • Makes connections between your work and the work of others.
  • Supports your choice of the problem you are researching.
  • Demonstrates that your research is original, that it has not already been done. 

Literature Review as a Product

The process is what is involved in conducting a review of the literature. 

  • It is ongoing
  • It is iterative (repetitive)
  • It involves searching for and finding relevant literature.
  • It includes keeping track of your references and preparing and formatting them for the bibliography of your thesis.

What it is NOT:

  • It is NOT simply a set of summaries of the books, papers, etc. that you have read.
  • Nor is it NOT a collection of quotes or paraphrases strung together from these sources.

Literature Review as a Process

The process is what is involved in conducting a review of the literature.

  • It is ongoing.
    • It begins when you pick up the first book or article related to your research and continues until the day you finish your final draft.
  • It is iterative.
  • It involves searching for and finding relevant literature.
  • It includes keeping track of your references and preparing and formatting them for the bibliography of your thesis.

 

PhD Comics cartoon about research process (read, write, rinse, repeat)

Source: http://www.phdcomis.com

Summary

  • Spend time planning and developing your search.
  • Search multiple databases.
  • Test your searches in each database and, based on your results, modify and refine your search.
  • Take notes during the process to record the keywords you use, the databases you search (name, subject coverage, date range), types of sources you use (primary, secondary, peer-reviewed, news stories, etc.), new concepts and new vocabulary as you encounter them, prominent authors/researchers, etc.
  • Consult an expert searcher (your subject librarian) before you start your search and at intervals in the process.

What is a Literature Search?

A literature search is a thorough, comprehensive search of all types of published literature in order to identify as many items as possible that are relevant to your topic.

literature search:

  • Helps you focus and refine your topic.
  • Extends your knowledge of key concepts and theories.
  • Allows you to find out what other people have done in order to avoid duplicating their work.
  • Identifies key people (authors), organizations, funding agencies, and publications in the field.
  • Can help you identify an approach and suitable methodology for your work.
  • Can help you identify the type of data you might collect and use.
  • Through the process, you become aware and gain an understanding of the field of your research.

Engineering Librarian

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Erin Rowley
Contact:
119 Lockwood Library
University at Buffalo
Buffalo, NY 14260
epautler@buffalo.edu
716-645-1369