When I decided to work in academia, I knew I would have to eventually restart my literature review to continue or extend my previous research in preparation for a PhD. I didn’t get around to really get back to my reading and writing habit as I just started to get myself acquainted with new lectureship and academic processes. When The Thesis Whisperer’s Dr Inger wrote about How to write faster and credited my idea of synthesis matrix (I sincerely thank Dr Inger for that!), I realized I have been neglecting my literature review and my matrices are left untouched for some times.
When I revisited my literature review process one day, I have identified some steps that I actually followed in doing my previous literature review. I thought it’s best that I share it in this blog, hoping that more people would find it useful and probably we could all do literature review together following this process.
This diagram shows my literature review process starting from searching for articles until writing a critical literature review. As you can see, this is a continuous process and it’s not actually that straightforward. My literature review process has two important (must-have) tools: Mendeley as my primary reference manager and synthesis matrix as the template to collect all my notes before writing.
This process is still a work-in-progress and it’s (definitely) not perfect. Oh, I’m definitely not the expert too! If you really want some professional help with literature review fast, I’d recommend you to check out Literature Review HQ. Dr Ben has great literature review bootcamp courses to help you get your literature review done effectively. Anyway, the diagram above is just one way of doing literature review and it might not suit you if you prefer other method. Nevertheless, you can always use this as a reference to kick start your own literature review process. I plan to write more in details about each step that I do in my literature review process and I probably need more posts to talk about them.
If you are currently doing your literature review and you have just stumbled upon this site, I hope you can be patient to read more about these later. I’ll try my best to share more soon. Meanwhile, you can see all other related posts under Literature Review category. I have briefly described how to use synthesis matrix for literature review in my previous posts.