A smart and effective method for undertaking literature reviews particularly for research students and others new to a discipline.

Narrative methods that are commonly used in many research theses, rely on the expertise and experience of the author, making them challenging for novices. In contrast, the method we use and recommend involves systematically searching the literature using online database and other sources to find all relevant papers that fit specific criteria (systematically identifying the literature), entering information about each study into a personal database, then compiling tables that summarise the current status of the literature (quantifying the literature). The results are reliable, quantifiable and reproducible.

Using this method, it’s also possible to determine if there are suitable datasets for meta-analysis. By mapping the literature we can not only identify what is known, but also, but where there are gaps: a critical issue in advancing research and designing PhD research programs.

Reliable, quantifiable and reproducible

The method works well for specific topics, but also for summarising diverse inter-disciplinary research. Using this method many of our students and others have gone on to publish their reviews. Importantly for PhD students, the database can be updated during the PhD thesis allowing them to easily identify relevant papers and produce their final thesis without having to re-read all the literature.

There are now hundreds of papers published using this method. A full list of them is available from google scholar.

Some select examples showing how they have been done, including searching strategies, ways to analysis the data and address some concerns regarding use/non-use of grey literature, factors affecting demand for, and supply of research by country etc, addressed in the advanced videos include:

Further resources and contacts

Article in The Conversation:

Important reference for how to report on how you systematically searched for papers that may be required by journals:

  • Boote, B.N. and Beile P. (2005). Scholars before researchers: On the centrality of the dissertation literature review in research preparation. Educational Researcher. 34: 3-15.
  • Crisp, B.R. (2015) Systematic reviews: A social work perspective. Australian Social Work, 68:3, 284-295.
  • Murray, R. (2011). How to Write a Thesis. McGraw Hill Open University Press. Maidenhead, England (Chapter on writing a literature reviews).
  • Petticrew, M. and Roberts, H. (2006). Systematic Reviews in the Social Sciences: A Practical Guide. Blackwell Publishing, Oxford, England.
  • Randolph J.J. (2009). A guide to writing the dissertation literature review. Practical Assessment, Research and Evaluation. 14: 1-13.

Some of the journals publishing SQLR include:

  • Ambio
  • Analyse und Kritik
  • Anatolia
  • ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
  • Asia and the Pacific Policy Studies
  • Asian Journal of Criminology
  • Austral Entomology
  • Australian Social Work
  • Behaviour Change
  • Biological Conservation
  • BMC Health Services Research
  • CIRP Journal of Manufacturing Science and Technology
  • Climatic Change
  • Conservation Biology
  • Corruption in Sport: Causes, Consequences, and Reform
  • Crop Protection
  • Crystal Research and Technology
  • Cuadernos de Desarrollo Rural
  • Cuadernos de Turismo
  • Current Issues in Tourism
  • Discourse
  • Documents d'Analisi Geografica
  • Ecologia Austral
  • Ecological Economics
  • Ecology and Society
  • Education Sciences
  • Educational Media International
  • Energy and Buildings
  • Environment International
  • Environment Systems and Decisions
  • Environmental Modelling and Software
  • Environmental Pollution
  • Environmental Science and Policy
  • European Journal of Higher Education
  • European Journal of Information Systems
  • Evaluation and Program Planning
  • Event Management
  • Fish and Fisheries
  • Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment
  • Global Environmental Change
  • Habitat International
  • Higher Education Research and Development
  • ICES Journal of Marine Science
  • IEEE Internet of Things Journal
  • IFAC-PapersOnLine
  • Innovar
  • International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction
  • International Journal of Language and Communication Disorders
  • International Journal of Managing Projects in Business
  • International Journal of Mental Health Nursing
  • International Journal of Production Research
  • International Journal of the Commons
  • International Journal of Tourism Research
  • International Social Work
  • Issues in Educational Research
  • Journal of Business Research
  • Journal of Cleaner Production
  • Journal of Environmental Management
  • Journal of Healthcare Leadership
  • Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Research
  • Journal of Hospitality Marketing and Management
  • Journal of Information Technology in Construction
  • Journal of Outdoor Recreation and Tourism
  • Journal of Place Management and Development
  • Journal of Reproductive and Infant Psychology
  • Journal of Sustainable Tourism
  • Journal of Technical Education and Training
  • Journal of the Medical Library Association
  • Journal of Travel and Tourism Marketing
  • Journal of Urbanism
  • Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation
  • Landscape and Urban Planning
  • Local Environment
  • Managing Sport and Leisure
  • Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences
  • Nurse Education in Practice
  • Ocean and Coastal Management
  • Procedia CIRP
  • Procedia Engineering
  • Procedia Manufacturing
  • Proceedings of AISB Annual Convention 2018
  • Proceedings of the International Conference on e-Learning, ICEL
  • Producao
  • Progress in Transplantation
  • Reliability Engineering and System Safety
  • Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews
  • Restoration Ecology
  • Scientometrics
  • Sex Education
  • Small Group Research
  • Solar Energy
  • South African Computer Journal
  • Speech, Language and Hearing
  • Studies in Higher Education
  • Sustainability (Switzerland)
  • Teaching and Learning in Medicine
  • Teaching and Teacher Education
  • The Routledge Companion to Management Information Systems
  • Tourism
  • Tourism Management
  • Tourism Management Perspectives
  • Training and Education in Professional Psychology
  • Transportation Research Record
  • Urban Ecosystems
  • Urban Forestry and Urban Greening
  • Water Research
  • Wildlife Research
  • Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change
  • World Leisure Journal

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