Welcome to the Literature Review Challenge for Undergrads!
About the Literature Review Challenge: "includes tools and strategies to help you take your literature searching to the next level. The activities are presented as daily "challenges" that participants might accomplish over the course of one week. However, each activity stands alone and can be completed separately from the others and at a time that is convenient." Adapted from the Literature Review Challenge at the University of Maine).
Why Day 1? -- Day 1 focuses on the need to "Define (ore Refine) Your Research Topic/Question" -- the resources on this day include a video about how to do research on a topic and another about developing a research question.Also, here is a link to a template for refining from a general topic to a research question. The exercise is quick and informative!
From North Carolina University Libraries
From Laurier University Library
Why Day 2? -- The Day 2 Challenge focuses on how to "Search Strategically" -- the resources and information on this day include a video with tips for effective online search, written instructions for how to build quality searches, and several challenges.
From Sarah Clark at the University of Manitoba
We have a handout on Research tips and Boolean searching for you. Once you have found literature relevant to your research question, ask yourself whether your research question needs adjusting.
Why Day 3? -- Scholarly material can be accessed beyond the use of library databases.
Google Scholar is a search engine that links to materials like journal articles, e/books, government information, dissertations, and theses. Results can come from publishers, institutional repositories, government agencies, and other reputable sources.
If you have searched Google and landed on a scholarly article, you have used Google Scholar (scholar.google.com)!
You can customize Google Scholar to provide full-text links to journal articles available through Mullen Library's subscriptions. This approach will save you time by getting the full text more quickly and it will help you avoid paywalls--when you are asked to pay for articles. Never pay!
Note: not all results in Google Scholar are scholarly so if you have doubts, talk with your subject librarian for help identifying what you've found.
Your Challenge: Set up Library Links in Google Scholar to Get to Full Text Faster!
1. Go to Google Scholar
2. Click on the Menu icon
3. Click on the Settings gear
4. Click "Library links," and then enter "Catholic University of America" in the search bar
5. Check the boxes next to "Catholic University - ProQuest FullText" and "Catholic University of America - ViewIt@CatholicU" of America.
6. Click "Save"
7. Now, when you search Google Scholar, you will see a "Full-Text @ Your Library" or "Full View" or "ViewIt@CatholicU" link next to any subscription resources that we have access to through the library!
Why Day 4? -- You can now organize and synthesize what you have found. Up to now, you have focusing on refining the topic, strategic literature searching, and accessing the literature for your paper. Now, you must organize what you have found in order to make sense of your topic.
Your Challenge: Create a Literature Review Matrix Adapting One of the Following Templates
As you gather the information for your research question, your reading/note-taking process begins. You will need to make sense of your readings as you organize and and learn from it. These spreadsheets are excellent tools for organizing your ideas. Copy one of these and and modify it to your needs. You can even create your own template to get started.
The purpose of these spreadsheets is to assist you in tracking your research, what you are reading, and your thoughts on each source you found. By this tracking method, you can easily identify recurring themes, trends, or patterns, disagreements, and underdeveloped ideas or arguments.
Why Day 5? -- Manage Your Citations. Citation managers can save you time and make citing and writing less stressful.
The benefits of a citation manager include:
Citation managers work with subject databases, search engines, and Google Scholar. Watch this video where they use Zotero as an example to show you how it's done.
Your Challenge: Set Up an Account in a Citation Manager
1. Set up an account in a citation manager. There are numerous options out there (see this comparison chart). Catholic University Libraries has subscriptions to RefWorks and EndNote with Zotero being free.
2. Begin creating/organizing folders and pulling in literature. Once you have created an count in RefWorks, EndNote or Zotero, you are ready to search and import records from databases into your account. Consider the research projects you are working on and create a folder for each one. You can create subfolders that cover different sections of an essay you're writing (e.g., introduction, literature review, methodology, discussion).
3. Create a quick bibliography from your citation manager, in the citation style of your choice.