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EBIO 3940 Written Communication in the Sciences: Home

A guide to help you put together your literature review for EBIO 3940

Putting together a literature review

When writing a scientific literature review, it is important to explore the primary scientific literature as comprehensively as possible, and from that, develop an argument about the trends and directions in the scholarly conversation. You'll need to look at how authors respond to each other, and assess their work critically.

In order to do both of these things, you'll need to search widely (which you can do on the Articles tab), using both general and focused databases, and manage your research (which you can learn more about on the Citation and Zotero tab). As you get started, you'll want to identify keywords and develop a search strategy, and perhaps search for background information in OneSearch.

Keyword Strategies

Before you search, it's a good idea to come up with and record some possible keywords. Remember, though, that as  you learn more about your topic, and perhaps even develop new questions, your keywords will change and shift.

As you're generating keywords, think about:

  • Breaking your research question up into concepts and grouping search terms that way. For example, if you were looking for the effect of mosquito nets on preventing malaria in developing nations, your concepts might be 1) mosquito nets, 2) malaria, 3) developing nations.
  • Then, brainstorm synonyms and group them by the bigger concepts.
  • Eliminate words like "as a cause of" or "effect of". These connect ideas in natural language, but databases do better without them.

Find background information and books in OneSearch

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