06 April 2014

[sci writing] literature review

Start to write about river water-groundwater relation

1. Introduction

All kinds of research, researcher must have a strong understanding of preceeding research on the same or similar subject. Master and PhD student, as a kind of researcher, must compose a literature review before they hold permit to start their research. Usually we use the term literature review as a form of formal written document that summarises all previous related researches.

Generally the steps are:

  • searching articles with certain criteria.
    • published article on reputable journals.
    • presented abstract on reputable conferences.
  • extract the results from each article, what data is used in it, and how the author analyse it.
  • summarise and compile the result to mark a baseline for your research.

However if we dig deeper, we can find that there are at least two kinds of literature review:

  • Annotated bibliography
  • Systematic review

2. Annotated bibliography

What is an annotated bibliography? These are several good definitions on the term:

An annotated bibliography provides a brief account of the available research on a given topic. It is a list of research sources that includes concise descriptions and evaluations of each source.[UNSW] (https://student.unsw.edu.au/annotated-bibliography)

Another definition even gives an average sum of words:

An annotated bibliography is a list of citations to books, articles, and documents. Each citation is followed by a brief (usually about 150 words) descriptive and evaluative paragraph, the annotation. The purpose of the annotation is to inform the reader of the relevance, accuracy, and quality of the sources cited. [Cornell Univ] (http://guides.library.cornell.edu/annotatedbibliography).

another references to be added

According to the two references, it’s clear now that the steps previously mentioned in the introduction is for composing annotated bibliography.

Now we get to the real part. Searching for references. There’s so many ways to get related readings and references:

  • The old-fashioned way is to go to your university library. Tempting huh :-) If I’d suggest this as the best way. Not only you’ll get the one document that you’ve been looking for, but also you’ll feel the atmosphere in there. Although there are more online documents nowadays, but still I’d sit still in the library (if I have time). You might by any chance get the oldest record on whatever you’re looking for.
  • Then there’s always be internet as the backbone of researcher around the globe. The problem is, where to find it.

    • Google: the most obvious next man’s best friend. Off course there’re others, like: bing, and our old mate Yahoo. You might want to visit list of search engine. But be careful with using Google, because it crawls on any documents that matched with our keyword. So it could be a real scientific paper on a scientific journal, or a newsletter or simply an email in a miling list. But starting from November 2004, Google has make improvement on the matter by launching Google Scholar. Now you can get more refined result with this tools. Five years later, in December 2009, Microsoft launched Microsoft Academic.
    • Citation database or scientific database: we’re already familiar with Scopus, Science direct, Proquest, or Web of Science. You can start with both links, since different company would likely have different database and searching algorithm. If you are working or affiliating to a university that has subscription to any of the database, then you have eliminated half of your problem :-).
    • Or your university has a cross-referencing system that access multiple databases in the internet. You are the lucky one :-). Just type in the keyword in it then you get more results from multiple resources. I’ll continue later on with my own case of reference searching.
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