Effective Friday, March 20 all physical Libraries locations are closed until further notice. Physical collections will be unavailable during this time, however, librarians and electronic resources are available to you remotely. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to reach out to me via email. You can also keep up with all of the latest Libraries updates here: https://guides.lib.utexas.edu/librariescontinuity.
You may have noticed a slight change in the Library search this year. The new search work similarly to the old system, but you may notice a few differences. If you find yourself with questions about how to do something in the new system, check out our Search and FAQ guides linked below.
As you work toward completing your research projects, remember that the research process is NOT linear. It's usually more of a circular process and there may be many times where you jump back and forth between the stages of your research. While not everyone's research process will look exactly the same, the following model can give you a better idea of how the research process often works.
Think of scholarly papers like a conversation. A paper takes a look at what people are saying on a particular topic and then adds something new to the conversation based on their own research. A literature review is how scholars get caught up on the conversation so they will know what to say or ask next.
A literature review can be just a simple summary of the sources, but it usually has an organizational pattern and combines both summary and synthesis.
A summary is a recap of the important information of the source, but a synthesis is a re-organization, or a reshuffling, of that information. It might give a new interpretation of old material or combine new with old interpretations. Or it might trace the intellectual progression of the field, including major debates.
A research question is what forms and guides your literature review. It is the question that you want the literature to answer for you. A research question should be specific, focused, and concise.
To develop a research question, start with a general topic of interest to you. You'll want to do some preliminary and background research on this topic to think through what specific questions you might have.
Sample Topic: impact of social media on adolescent physical activity
Sample Research Question: Can social media serve as an effective tool for increasing physical activity among adolescents?
Need more guidance on developing your topic into a research question? Check out this video from the library at Northern Kentucky University.
In order to search most effectively for articles that pertain to your research topic, take a little time at the beginning of your project to plan out your search strategy.
1. Break up your topic/research question into it's primary concepts
2. Brainstorm synonyms for your terms (see more in next tab)
3. Add quotation marks around exact phrases and be sure to include both singular and plural
4. Search one concept at a time using ORs to include all of your synonyms and then combine your searches with AND
1. Save time, prepare to research!
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2. Combine keywords using AND and OR:
3. Brush up on the search tools available:
Interfaces and search options vary across databases, but best practices for searching are relatively consistent across interfaces. No matter which database you choose, remember these important tips...
1) Don't search wth your topic as a single phrase! Determine the key concepts of your topic. Then place each concept in its own search bar. For example...
2) Use ORs to string together synonyms or related terms for core concepts...
3) Use truncation, when appropriate. Adding an * to the end of a word will catch all forms of that word. For example, teach* will return teach, teachers, teaching, etc.
4) Use proximity searches to force a relationship between two terms. This isn't always needed, but is sometimes super helpful. Completion is a common word that may come up in many context. The search below means that the word complete or completion must appear within two words of college in the article title and abstracts.
5) Look for the "peer reviewed" limit in each database. You can set this limit on the main search screen (before you search) or narrow your results after you've started your search.
6) Set date limits as appropriate for your topic..
The University Writing Center is available to help you with your writing assignments. The UWC can help with your writing at any stage, including: finding a topic for a paper, organizing ideas and clarifying thoughts, and drafting and revising papers. Make an appointment on their website for a consultation with a writing coach.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic License.