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Chemical Engineering Fourth-Year Research Projects

Michael White

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Michael White
Douglas Library, Room 520

What is a Literature Review?

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.