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How to do proper literature research?


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Literature research can be an extremely repetitive job to do. Purchase it on a writing service if you want. But which one to choose? I like Edubirdie personally, but if you don’t believe me and wonder if Edubirdie is good, you can always read online reviews.

Often you get a literature list with the topic to be worked on. For smaller papers or term papers, this list may be sufficient. Nevertheless, it does not hurt to search for further sources. For theses, further research is always necessary.

Research possibilities

Library catalogs

Various library networks now allow you to search huge book collections - so you're not limited to what a local search will yield. Good mega-searches are offered by WorldCat and the Karlsruhe Virtual Catalog.

Our tip: First try to get an overview of the topic with the local book offer. This way you can find out which books you still need via the (expensive and time-consuming) interlibrary loan.

Subject-specific databases

Depending on your field of study or specialization, there are subject-specific databases. Fellow students or the supervisor of the thesis should be able to give more detailed information if this is the case.

Review of current journals

The absolute majority of journals are published online these days, which has led to an increased speed in the dissemination of current articles. As many scientists split their findings across many articles, this also leads to an ever-increasing mountain. It is not easy for students to keep track of this.

Bibliographies in relevant articles, monographs and books.

Internet

Search engines for scientific sources are e.g. Google Scholar or the alternative Base Search from Bielefeld, which focuses on English-language works.

Statistical figures can be obtained from the US Federal Statistical Office or from US statistics.

In the (commercial) social networks Researchgate (only natural sciences) and academia.edu many scientists list their articles - sometimes even for download!

Search strategies

The right keywords are crucial for literature searches. The number of articles found can

be very extensive.

Here you should further specify the query, i.e. use additional or more specific terms.

...be very small.

In this case, you should search with synonyms to see if there are any entries found. Otherwise, you can use generic terms and see in the hits whether useful information is to be expected for the actually searched terms.

Introductory articles/books (e.g. from the literature tips for the seminar or from the supervisor of the thesis) can help to find suitable keywords. It is also advisable to check the keywords listed in the literature databases for articles that have already been found and deemed relevant.

Trade journals

The supervisor of the thesis knows which journals might offer suitable articles on the topic.

Author search

If you have already found articles, it often turns out that certain authors write more frequently on a specific topic. In this case you can search for further contributions of these authors.

Snowballing

If you have found central contributions to a topic, you can investigate further over the contained literature references. In the literature found in this way there are again literature references ...

Record literature

All relevant literature should be noted in the research phase. It is best to use the same information as you will need for the bibliography. This list should be maintained continuously during the writing of your own paper - in the best case, you can transfer it directly into the paper.

Related Resources:

What is academic writing?

How do I prepare for writing an academic paper?

What does a good outline look like?

A template for essays 

 

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