A literature review is a systematic approach to finding, retrieving and analyzing published research on a specific topic or question.
A literature review is generally conducted at the beginning of a research project. If the project is ongoing over a long period of time, further searches may be necessary in order to include the latest published research.
The scope of the literature review depends on the research project. In general, a comprehensive literature review for an engineering research project typically includes journal articles and conference papers. It may also include technical reports, patents, theses and books.
Literature Review Tips
A literature review conducted in haste with little or no planning will yield poor results. Take a few minutes before starting your research to develop a literature review plan.
Start with a review article or encyclopedia article (secondary sources) to gain an overview of a topic.
Use technical dictionaries and glossaries to locate terms and synonyms relating to a technology.
Search appropriate multidisciplinary and subject databases to locate research articles (primary sources).
Use controlled vocabulary and subject headings for best search results.
Search patent and technical report databases to find examples of applied technology.
Do a citation search Web of Science to find additional articles related to key articles.
Create a search alert to stay informed about new articles related to your topic.