A literature review is the first step when writing a research paper. It will allow you to locate books, journal articles and other materials to support or refute the research you are doing. They can give you an overview or act as background to more recent information. A literature review allows you to learn about the history of a field and current developments. It allows you to find the most pertinent or relevant books and journal articles related to a subject.
I like to use the same techniques as developing a topic sentence, for developing a search strategy.
Start with your topic sentence. I am researching foster care and in patient facilities. I need to look at legislation, legislative histories, court cases at the state federal levels.
Next break it down. What are other words that can be used?
legislation or law
Connect the terms using the following connectors foster care and in patient and (youth or young adult or teen*) and (legislation or laws)
and : narrows your results. All words must be in the results foster care and children
or : broadens your results. Any of the words must be in your results. youth or young adult or teen
not : excludes words.
() : allows you to combine it all together.
* picks up the various ends to a root word. teen* will result in teen, teens, teenagers
Here are some helpful hints to assist you in getting the most out of research.
1. Buy a copy of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association. 6th edition. The first three chapters are a very important guide to writing for an academic audience.
2. Set the foundation - build your skills, just as you would in learning anything new. The more you do it the better you become.
3. Ask for help! Get to know your subject librarian. We can help you with search strategies and source selection to maximize your time management.
4. Utilize the "Find It" feature on the Libraries website.
5. Sign up for Interlibrary Loan which is also known as Illiad.