How to Write a Literature Search Strategy

Posted September 6, 2018

So, you have worked your tail off to dig deep into the literature to find what you hope will fill over 40 pages of your monstrous Chapter 2. Now what? Well, ideally, you will begin crafting a clear and concise synthesis of the literature. However, oftentimes dissertation candidates struggle with putting it all together. A good place to start (and an easy box to check off for your chapter) is with writing the Literature Search Strategy.

This particular section in your Chapter 2 is really a plug-and-play piece. There are two main things that you focus on in this section. The first one is the databases that you used to locate the articles that you found, and the other is the search terms that you utilized. A secondary, minor, element to this section is the date range of articles searched. Most schools have a five year limitation for non-seminal pieces. Once you have these elements, you can craft something like this:

The search for current, 2013-2018, peer-reviewed articles was conducted via the [Insert your school name here] online library. These databases included Academic OneFile, Academic Search Complete, ERIC, Gale, JSTOR, Sage Journals, and PsycNet [These databases are here as examples. It is likely that your databases will be different based on your field of study]. Google Scholar was also utilized to locate open access articles. The following search terms were used to locate articles specific to this study: drug abuse, drug treatment, and so on. [List all of your search terms in italics, with the “and” in plain font. Be sure that you do not include variations in this list as it will seem redundant]. Variations of these terms were used to ensure exhaustive search results.

Using the template above, you should be able to quickly and easily knock out this section of your Chapter 2!

Free Help Session: Chapters 1 and 2

During these sessions, students can get answers to introduction to the problem, background of study, statement of the problem, purpose of the study, and theoretical framework. Questions may also involve title searches, literature review, synthesis of findings, gap and critique of research. (We will not address APA style, grammar, headings, etc. If you are interested in help with the research design or nature of the study, please register for the methodology drop-in by clicking here).

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