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This section gives an overview of different sources of information that are available in the University Library, the search methods and techniques you can use, and your options to stay up-to-date as well as practical tips.

Learning outcomes

After studying this section you will be able to search efficiently and effectively.

You will be able to decide which of the various search methods is best for your research, and which search techniques will produce the best results.

You will learn to focus your searches which will save you time and effort.

What is a Literature review?

A literature review is both a process and a product. As a process, it involves searching for information related to your topic to familiarize yourself with the relevant research. This process also helps you identify issues and gaps in the research. Remember that you are seeking to identify the key authors and key arguments that are relevant to your topic, not to exhaustively read everything written on the subject.

You will need to find ways to systematically document your search process (where you have searched and your search terms), to keep track of what you have read (look into bibliographic/citation software), and to summarize key points from relevant literature. 

As a finished product, a literature review tells the reader the current state of understanding about a topic. However it is more than a summary of what you have read, it is a critical analysis, which argues the need for your own study. It provides a context for your own research, by showing the relationship between it and existing scholarship.

A literature review can be a component of a research paper, or it can be published on its own as a 'review article.'  A literature review is a mandatory part of every thesis and dissertation.

The systematic review

The systematic review is another way of finding literature.

It enables you to systematically document your search process (where you have searched and which search terms you have used), to keep up with what you have read (reference list), and to summarize key points from relevant literature.

So to keep your research and literature review structured and focused you can use a systematic review.

Practical tip: Draw up a time schedule

Literature searches take time, as do requesting and reading the information found. So draw up a time schedule in advance. Sometimes it takes a while to get hold of a book or article, especially if it is not available in the Groningen University Library.

Practical tip: Use a search plan

Use a search plan (or a log) to support and guide you in your search. In this way you can keep track of your search actions and results and in this way keep your research focused.

You can use one of the examples below as your guideline.

Practical tip: Use a reference manager

Good reference management is an enormous help in retracing what you have seen and read. It also helps you to reuse and/or add annotations to a text and to share your references. Moreover, it leads to accurate citations. In short: good reference  management enables you to work more effectively and efficiently. 



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Subjects: Information Literacy, SmartCat, Systematic Review, OER