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Literature Review – Where to Hunt

  1. Literature Review – Overview
  2. Part One – Literature Survey
  3. Literature Survey
  4. Efficient Ways Of Searching The Literature
  5. Where to Hunt
  6. Other Useful Info
  7. Citations And Notes
  8. Errors Of Judgment
  9. Planning Checklist

Where to Hunt

Thanks to personal computers, the Internet, and the World Wide Web, the task
of finding suitable resources has been dramatically simplified and the outcome
markedly enriched over the past two decades. Prior to the 1980s, researchers-including
graduate students – were obliged to hunt for pertinent literature by fingering
through library card catalogues, inspecting the references listed in the closing
pages of books, questioning professors and fellow students, and hunting through
volumes containing abstracts of studies in a given discipline. Today, a student
with a personal computer at hand, and a modem that connects the computer via
the phone lines to an Internet server, can discover appropriate literature sources
that may be located all over the world. Thus, the best place to begin your search
is probably at a computer connected to an Internet server. The server may be
located in your own college or university, or it may be a commercial provider,
such as America Online, CompuServe, or AT&T WorldNet.

Some libraries’ lists of bookholdings are available to anyone with access to
the World Wide Web. However, more specialized data banks – such as lists of
journal or newspaper articles and their abstracts – require a password available
only to certain kinds of users, such as faculty members and students of the
school in which you are enrolled. Hence, you can get a password for your own
university library’s restricted services, but probably not for those services
in other institutions’ libraries unless you make special arrangements.

In addition to taking advantage of the Internet, you still may – as in “the
good old days” – profit from asking the advice of professors, fellow students,
and librarians as you pursue answers to your literature-search queries.

The libraries of most higher-education institutions have an open-stack policy.
Students are permitted to wander among the rows of shelved books and bound journals,
inspect the titles, and look through any volumes they choose. However, some
libraries maintain a closed-stack policy. In order to get a book, a user must
find the book’s call number and title in the library’s catalogue, write that
information on an order card, and hand the order to a librarian who will then
have a library employee find the volume and deliver it to the check-out desk.
An open-stack policy is much to your advantage, for it permits you to find the
sections of the library’s holdings that are most relevant to your project and
to browse among the titles shelved there to find sources that may be of use.
You can then inspect the tables of contents and indexes of those books to locate
answers to your search questions. You can also inspect the lists of references
at the ends of chapters or ends of journal articles to find resources that bear
on your topic.

What to Record and How to Record It

If you have used function questions to guide your search, then the problem
of what to record from the literature is obviously solved. You simply write
answers to your questions. It is also the case that, as you survey the literature,
contents of the article or chapter you are reading may suggest further search
questions that had not occurred to you before. Thus, you not only record the
information you have found but also add to your search strategy the question
generated by that information.

The matter of how to record what you find can involve considering both what
form to use and how to code what you record.

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