Systems for Methods Lit Reviews

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A MethodSpace focus for March is on steps for reviewing literature to situate it in a research tradition. We are using this definition of the literature review: “a systematic syntheses of previous work around a particular topic” (Salkind, 2010, p. 726) .

System or chaos?

The first key word in Salkind’s definition is system. Let’s start by exploring systems we can establish to organize, and analyze literature about the methodology and methods central to the study. Without a workable system, the other tasks associated with the literature review can become more difficult to achieve. I’ve experienced this dilemma– I know I’ve read just the right resource, but where is it in the midst of piles and files of documents?


Here are some open access chapters and companion sites for a few relevant SAGE books about literature reviews.

Systematic approaches to a successful literature review (Booth, Sutton, & Papaioannou, 2016). Available resources include a Companion site and Chapter 2. This book includes steps for students and experienced scholars, with discussion of a variety of literature review types.

Conducting research literature reviews: From the Internet to Paper (Fink, 2019). Available resources include Chapters 1 and 2. This new edition includes recommendations for organizing literature reviews using online resources. Chapter 2 discusses how to look for methodological quality in the sources you select. 

Doing Your Literature Review: Traditional and Systematic Techniques (Jesson, Matheson, & Lacey, 2011). Chapter 1 is available to download. It offers foundational definitions and exercises you can try.

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