A literature review may be conducted in order to inform practice and/or policy, serve as a basic element in a thesis or dissertation or as part of a proposal to obtain funding. The process can be divided into a series of steps:
- Choose a topic. Look at recent literature for ideas and do a bit of preliminary searching of the existing literature.
- Clarify your review question and the scope of your review
- Brainstorm search terms to use and think about your search strategy
- Begin searching for articles. I strongly recommend you keep a search log to document which databases you searched and what search terms you used.
- Capture and manage search results. You may want to export results to Endnote or other citation management tool (see Managing Citations tab in this guide)
- Screen results for inclusion based on critera you define
- Evaluate the the articles. A worksheet which includes the bibliographic information about the article and summarizes elements of the article such as research design, interventions, findings, main variables etc. may give you a helpful overview
- Synthesize results (this is the whole point!).