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Another view from Reading – common method is to start broad and focus it down. Information searching, evaluation and selection is critical to the process.
Don’t Google it – we need a strategy (before you even get as far as Summon)…
Suggested strategy – evaluation is key to the process.
Start with what you already know about the topic and select some background reading in books. Begin to identify key authors and concepts. Keywords – think around the topic and potential focus areas. Knife OR fork OR spoon / cutlery OR utensils – difference additional terms can make to a search!
Overview of types of sources and potential places to look. We do not cover how to search the tools today. Focus on books and articles.
There is a (not exhaustive) journal title list on LibGuides, which can be used for field searching Summon or giving you ideas of journals to add to your Zetoc Alerts.
Zetoc Alert instructions provided
Advanced search (most databases) vs one-line search (Summon, Google). LibGuides as start point.
The key thing is to think about a source’s suitability for your writing. Is it purposeful, relevant and credible?
Many students have learned the hard way! Summarising and reflecting on reading, beyond linear notes, are crucial for critical evaluation and discussion.
Literature Reviews and Searching
The Literature Review and
Searching for Information
What is a literature review?
How to conduct a search for information
Advice for managing the search and references
Search tools and journals
Purpose of a literature review
1) Determine what has already been done in relation to your
2) Point out research strategies which are productive in
investigating your topic
In addition it can enable you to:
a) Avoid reinventing the wheel;
b) Identify seminal works;
c) Define and measure key concepts;
d) Increase breadth and depth of your knowledge;
e) Position your project and identify relationships;
f) Identify opposing views
g) Show you can conduct the research
Notar, C.E. & Cole, V. (2010) Literature Review Organizer. International Journal of Education. [Online] 2 (2),
1-17. Available from: http://www.macrothink.org/journal/index.php/ije/article/view/319/368 [Accessed
17 February 2014].
The literature review and the literature
A literature review demonstrates to your reader that you are able to:
• Understand and critically analyse the background research (select, read, compare)
• Select and source the information that is necessary to develop a context for your
research (evaluate, relevance)
• A longer literature review may have headings to help group the relevant research into
themes or topics. This gives a focus to your analysis, as you can group similar studies
together and compare and contrast their approaches, any weaknesses or strengths in
their methods, and their findings (relate, synthesis, critical analysis/critique)
University of Reading (2012) Starting a literature review. [Online] Available from:
[Accessed 17 February 2014].
Starting your literature search
(powered by Summon)
Define your topic
Choose your keywords
Identify where you will search
Access and search resource
Locate full text (book, article etc)
Adapt your search
The topic and keywords
• Defining your topic – own knowledge, lecture
notes and books
• Keywords – crucial for searching in Summon
and databases (and Google).
Where will you find sources of info?
Library (Hive) and
Academic Search Complete,
British Education Index; WRaP*;
Teachersmedia; Box of
Broadcasts; on demand; You
Tube; TED Talks Hansard (parliament.uk);
organisations and charities
News websites;TES; Lexis Library
legislation.gov.uk; Education in
England website; Childlink;
Digital Education Resource
Archive (DERA); Department for
Dissertations and Theses; Level 4 (Hive)
For websites see http://libguides.worc.ac.uk/education/websites
My iLibrary, Dawson Era
• Journals list on the LibGuides subject page
• Use Zetoc to set up email alerts for key titles:
1. Click the Zetoc link on your LibGuide
2. Click Zetoc Alert for emails
3. Find and select ‘University of Worcester’
4. Log in as normal
5. Enter your preferred email address for receiving the alerts, and give it a
6. Alerts have an expiry date so you can come back to change or add alerts.
7. Click ‘Add Journals’ to search for titles, or ‘Add Searches’ to add authors
or keywords. (You can switch between these on the next page.)
8. (Use Library Search to access the full articles – just search by article
Access and search the resources
(motivation OR engagement) AND (parents OR carers) AND learning
Library Search is available from your student portal page
Academic Search Complete, British Education Index, My iLibrary, Dawson Era and other
individual resources are available through http://libguides.worc.ac.uk/education.
Recommended websites and Google searches are at http://libguides.worc.ac.uk/education/websites
Evaluate what you find
• Authority – who wrote it
• Audience – who for
• Accuracy – use your knowledge
• Breadth and depth, references – validity and reliability
• Bias – why was it written, by who and who for
• Currency – date (does it matter?)
• Comparison with other sources – primary sources and
Purpose and relevance: Remember that you are writing
up your academic research
• Keep records: where you have searched, and the searches
you have tried. Some tools provide a search history which
you can save/email/print.
• Keep references: index cards or a Word document of all
references you’ve consulted and read – in Harvard format.
• Note creation: include your thoughts and reflections on
what you’ve read, alongside ‘typical’ notes of quotes,
paraphrases and page numbers
• Summarise: your own short summaries of chapters and
articles are easier to refer back to than whole documents in
folders, especially when you want to find something
quickly, compare sources and plan the essay structure.
• Start now if you haven’t already.
• Chong Ho Shan, P. (2012) How to read journal articles in the social sciences: a very
practical guide for students. London, SAGE. (300/SHO)
• Judge, B., Jones, P. & McCreery, E. (2009) Critical thinking skills for education students.
Exeter, Learning Matters. (370.7/JUD, ebook available)
• Notar, C.E. & Cole, V. (2010) Literature Review Organizer. International Journal of
Education. [Online] 2 (2), 1-17. Available from:
http://www.macrothink.org/journal/index.php/ije/article/view/319/368 [Accessed 17
• Oliver, P. (2012) Succeeding with your literature review. Maidenhead, Open University
Press. (ebook available)
• Richardson, L. & McBryde-Wilding, H. (2009) Information skills for education students.
Exeter, Learning Matters. (025.524/RIC)
• Ridley, D. (2012) The literature review: a step-by-step guide for students. 2nd edition.
London, SAGE. (001.4/RID)
• University of Reading (2012) Starting a literature review. [Online] Available from:
startinglitreview.aspx [Accessed 17 February 2014].
• Wyse, D. (2012) The good writing guide for education students. 3rd edition. London,