Want to become an expert in your chosen research field? You start as a novice in the topic and possibly as a novice with regards to your information skills too. Move from a broad understanding of your research area to finding more specific research based information to support your research topic, finally, moving on to sources, people and places which assist you in staying up to date within your field. Use this page to get an initial "feel " for your topic.
Use the scoping search to gather information on useful sources and researchers in your field.
Evaluate your scoping search – it becomes the basis of the comprehensive literature review to follow.
Use human sources – go talk to your supervisors and fellow researchers They are great sources of advice & experience.
Outcome of your scoping search ? - a clearer, more refined, if not yet final, research question.
Keen to get into your research as soon as possible? Try these initial sources for information searching:
|Source||Reason to Use|
peer reviewed journals, review articles, books,free web sources, theses.
To give an overview of the whole field.
To identify main themes and debatesTo read the lit reviews in existing papers & theses
Your research community
supervisors, well known field experts,fellow researchers, online discussion groups
Access your supervisor’s existing knowledge, sources & contacts
Build a network of other researchers working in your areaStay up to date via identified online discussion groups
expertise in identifying and using major sources required for literature scoping & reviewing
Assist with more detailed literature searches.
Advise on structuring your follow-up comprehensive literature search, eg identifying sources, building systematic search strategies & document searches.
Advise on filtering & tailoring of results and identification of key papers, authors and journals; pearl citation searching; accessing materials via inter library loan.
Provide advice on reference management and data management.Provide assistance with publishing research eg open access publishing, copyright and measuring impact.
Do a basic search plan
Prepare a list of initial keywords and search terms from your research proposal.
Use a search plan template
Anyone else working in the same area?
Key authors and/or journals?
Can you identify a wider set of suitable keywords & search terms for your follow-up, comprehensive literature search?
Identify gaps in existing research and focus your own research question further.
Do you need to narrow the scope of your own research or set other limits upon it?
Are you re-inventing the wheel?
If you carry out this research – so what? What impact will it have on society?
Put pen to paper. Summarise your findings – key papers , authors & journals identified so far . Be prepared to talk them over with your supervisor or Principal Investigator.
From this discussion a more specific research question for your project can be identified and agreed, based on what is already known.
Consider the methodologies and theoretical frameworks used in the papers you have identified. Do you need to learn more about these techniques? Explore LibrarySearch and Sage Research Methods Online for books, papers and case studies on these.
Evaluate your initial scoping search- can you identify a wider range of more relevant keywords and search terms? Do you need to narrow your search using various parameters eg date, language, geography? Have you identified key authors or journals – do you need to set up electronic feeds or register for table of contents for these journals in order to follow these sources and/or link to individual author’s blogs or online profiles?