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Beginning Your Literature Review: Essential Techniques and Strategies

Updated: Apr 7


Embarking on a literature review can often feel like navigating through a vast sea of information. However, fear not! You can set a solid foundation for your research journey with the right techniques and strategies. In this first part of our Literature Review Series, we'll explore key steps to help you get started effectively.

Finding Relevant Articles

One of the initial hurdles in conducting a literature review is finding articles highly relevant to your research topic. But don't worry; we've got some tricks up our sleeves! Dive into academic databases armed with advanced search techniques. Utilize boolean operators and filters to refine your results. Remember to explore citation networks and reference lists of relevant articles to uncover those hidden gems waiting to be discovered.

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In their seminal work, Booth, Colomb, and Williams (2008) emphasize the importance of utilizing advanced search techniques to navigate academic databases effectively. They recommend employing Boolean operators such as "AND," "OR," and "NOT" to refine search queries and yield more targeted results. Additionally, leveraging filters based on publication date, methodology, and subject area can help narrow down the search scope (Booth et al., 2008).

Extracting Themes

Now that you've amassed a collection of articles, let's dive deeper into the sea of knowledge. The next step? Identifying and analyzing recurring themes within the literature. This is where things get exciting! Employ thematic analysis techniques like coding and categorization to extract those juicy themes and concepts. Look for patterns, connections, and even contradictions across different sources. It's like unravelling a mystery novel but with academic flair!

As highlighted by Braun and Clarke (2006), thematic analysis involves systematically organizing and interpreting qualitative data to identify patterns or themes within the dataset. Researchers can employ coding techniques to assign labels to segments of text representing recurring ideas or concepts. By iteratively reviewing and refining codes, researchers can develop a comprehensive understanding of the underlying themes present in the literature (Braun & Clarke, 2006).


Ah, the age-old question: where to focus your attention? 

With a plethora of themes emerging from your analysis, it's crucial to prioritize and focus on the most relevant ones for your study. But fret not! We've got your back. 

Develop methods for rating and selecting priority themes based on criteria such as significance, novelty, and alignment with your research objectives. This process will streamline your literature review and guide further analysis. It's like crafting a masterpiece, one brushstroke at a time.

In their guide to conducting literature reviews, Fink (2014) emphasizes the importance of prioritizing themes to maintain focus and coherence throughout the review process. Fink suggests developing a scoring system to assess the relevance and importance of identified themes based on predetermined criteria. By assigning weights to each criterion and systematically evaluating themes against these criteria, researchers can prioritize their analysis effectively (Fink, 2014).

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In conclusion, initiating your literature review with a systematic approach is essential for success. By employing techniques for finding relevant articles, extracting themes, and prioritizing your analysis, you can lay a strong foundation for a comprehensive and insightful review. So fear not, brave scholar, for you are well-equipped to conquer the vast sea of literature!

Don't forget to mark your calendars! Join us for a FREE webinar on the 1st Friday of every month from 6:00 - 7:00 pm EST. In April, we'll delve into "All About The Literature Review" providing valuable insights for doctoral candidates and students. Plus, take advantage of early registration for the 9-week Dissertation Boot Camp, with special perks for early registrants! The Bootcamp runs from June 1st to July 26th, 2024.

For more information and registration, visit, or contact us at 302-310-7677 or via email at


Booth, W. C., Colomb, G. G., & Williams, J. M. (2008). The craft of research. University of Chicago Press.

Braun, V., & Clarke, V. (2006). Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 3(2), 77-101.

Fink, A. (2014). Conducting research literature reviews: From the internet to paper. Sage Publications.

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