Why Do A Literature Search
Literature searching is a critical component for any research project. It is the part of the project where you perform a thoroughly thought-out and well-organized search in the available research literature, usually conducted in a bibliographic database, to identify the depth and breadth of good quality articles and other publications on a specific topic. Literature searching is an iterative process, where you would repeat the process a number of times to ensure that you have found, to the best of your ability, as many relevant references on your topic as possible.
The reasons for conducting a literature search are numerous and include, but are not limited to:
- short fact-finding forays, to acquire background information on a topic,
- getting insight into the scope and breath of the literature on a particular topic,
- determining whether or not; or to what extent, research on a topic has already been done - --
- to the immensely comprehensive and lengthy evidence synthesis (https://evidencesynthesis.org/what-is-evidence-synthesis/), such as systematic reviews.
The ultimate goal of a literature search is to gain knowledge.
In addition, a literature search helps:
- to clarify or refine the research problem or question under consideration,
- checks to see if similar research has already been done on the topic,
- verifies that this is an important problem or question which needs answering or more research,
- highlights or fills in gaps of existing knowledge or research,
- helps to find measurement instruments, research methods or techniques,
- reveals/uncovers/discloses terminology related to the field/topic and,
- identifies researchers with similar interests.
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vom Brocke, J., Simons, A., Riemer, K., Niehaves, B., Plattfaut, R. and Cleven, A. (2015) Standing on the Shoulders of Giants: Challenges and Recommendations of Literature Search in Information Systems Research. Communications of the Association for Information Systems, 37, Article 9.
Grewal, A., Kataria, H., & Dhawan, I. (2016). Literature search for research planning and identification of research problem. Indian journal of anaesthesia, 60(9), 635–639.
Watson M. (2020). How to undertake a literature search: a step-by-step guide. British journal of nursing (Mark Allen Publishing), 29(7), 431–435.