The following questions are designed to help you conduct a literature review that produces the information you are looking for and presents this information in a way that is useful to others.
What is the purpose of the search/review?
- How will the information be used?
- Who is the primary audience/s for the literature search? Are there any secondary audiences who might benefit?
- What is the overarching or general topic/s to be reviewed?
- What questions is the literature review designed to answer?
What search parameters will you apply to identify resources/references relevant to your guiding questions?
- Which search engines and/or databases will you use to conduct your search?
- Which keywords will guide your search? Why did you choose these?
- Within what timeframe will you search? For example, will your search be confined to studies conducted in the past 5 years? Why did you choose this timeframe?
- What other parameters will you apply to your search? For example, will you limit your search to: peer reviewed journals, to available full text articles, to studies using longitudinal data, to studies using quantitative data and methods, to published literature reviews or meta-analyses, to studies that focus on specific population groups (e.g., defined by age, gender, ethnicity)? Why are you applying these parameters?
What process will you use to synthesize information gleaned from resources/references into a cogent review?
- What kinds of information will you glean from your literature search, and how? For example, when or how will you decide to pull text? Will the text be further assessed for methodological quality (e.g., appropriate analytical strategies, well-defined measures, accounting for alternate explanations)?
- How will you synthesize and/or organize information collected in the literature search?
- What is your rational for this process?
How you will report or present your literature review?
- What format will you will use? For example, will you provide a brief one-paragraph summary of findings with an annotated bibliography of studies referenced; a matrix with findings/referenced studies organized by categories such as population groups or protective factors; a two-page brief with footnotes?
Developed under the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) Center for the Application of Prevention Technologies contract. Reference #HHSS277200800004C. For training and/or technical assistance purposes only.