by Ursula Saqui, Ph.D.
This is the second post of a two-part series on the overall process of doing a literature review. Part one discussed the benefits of doing a literature review, how to get started, and knowing when to stop.
You have made a commitment to do a literature review, have the purpose defined, and are ready to get started.
Where do you find your resources?
If you are not in academia, have access to a top-notch library, or receive the industry publications of interest, you may need to get creative if you do not want to pay for each article. (In a pinch, I have paid up to $36 for an article, which can add up if you are conducting a comprehensive literature review!)
Here is where the internet and other community resources can be your best friends.
- Know the difference between Google and Google Scholar. Google is helpful for popular mainstream publications whereas Google Scholar focuses only on scholarly references such as articles, theses, books, abstracts, and court opinions that are written by academics and other professional scholars.
- ResearchGATE is an example of a collaborative scientific community that indexes articles. Many times you can find the full text of articles at no charge.
- Your state may offer access to different databases for its residents. For example, in my home state of Indiana, residents have access to Inspire, a collection of resources, databases, and government publications. Click here to see if your state offers a similar resource.
- Check your local community library. They may not have the resources you need but they can often get them through inter-library loan. For example, my local community library does not carry advanced statistics books but the librarians can get them for me via their borrowing privileges with universities.
- Even without access to a specific database, you can search thousands of government sponsored research reports that have been conducted by the U.S. government or one of its affiliates. For example, in completing a literature review of service learning programs, I found a government report that summarized 10 years of research in service learning. (That made my day!)
- Private foundations or research companies may also conduct high-quality peer-reviewed research. For example, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation conducts and disseminates research on issues related to health and health care.
- If you know who authored the article, you can sometimes find a pdf file of their article on their website or university website listed under their vita or recent publications.
- Try to contact the author directly. When I have contacted authors, they have graciously sent me a complimentary copy of their article.
Still stuck? Hire someone who knows how to do a good literature review and has access to quality resources.
On a budget? Hire a student who has access to an academic library. Many times students can get credit for working on research and business projects through internships or experiential learning programs. This situation is a win-win. You get the information you need and the student gets academic credit along with exposure to new ideas and topics.
About the Author: With expertise in human behavior and research, Ursula Saqui, Ph.D. gives clarity and direction to her clients’ projects, which inevitably lead to better results and strategies. She is the founder of Saqui Research.