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ENVS 3020 Advanced Writing for ENVS: Home


Welcome to the ENVS 3020 Research Guide. Use the tabs above of the menu below to navigate throughout the guide. 

This guide serves as a starting point for your research in this course.  You'll find resources and tips for locating background information, scholarly articles, news, government information, and tools to help with citation management. 

Questions? Need Help? We're here to help! Contact us using the email links to the right.

Putting Together a Literature Review

When writing a literature review, it is important to explore the scholarly research on your topic 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 Scholarly Articles tab), using both general and focused databases, and manage your research (which you can learn more about on the Citation Management tab). As you get started, you'll want to identify keywords and develop a search strategy, and prepare to made changes to that strategy as needed.

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.

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