How to use Google Scholar to Write an Effective Literature Review

How to use Google Scholar to Write an Effective Literature Review

How to use Google Scholar to Write an Effective Literature Review


Google Scholar is the ideal location to begin a literature review in the modern period if one is unfamiliar with the subject. In such instances, I would recommend the following steps:

Introduction to the field: Go to GS and enter a few keywords associated with your project. Utilize the first two or three screens of the serps to choose a few essential papers based on their citation count and publication locations. At this point, it makes little difference if any of the discovered documents are outdated or irrelevant. The purpose of these articles is to introduce you to the area, and then to help you create a chronology of the literature by travelling in 2 ways: past and current.

Returning to the past: Assuming you picked some excellent articles in the prior phase, you will examine them and then find some essential previous works from their bibliographies. You then continue this approach with those essential publications until you’ve delved far enough into the past to comprehend the field’s development and evolution through time.

Understanding the current state of the art: To get an understanding of the state of the art, you will return to the papers listed in Step 1. Now, though, you’d want to go to the “Referenced by xxxx” link on GS and attempt to locate the works that directly address the issue at hand. Typically, if a discipline is prospering, papers on the subject will continue to come until the very end.

Here are some points to remember while you complete these stages.


If the subject you’re interested in is well-established and stable, chances are you’ll be able to locate either books or instructional articles on the subject (there may even be Wikipedia entries on it). In such scenario, reading the books, instructional articles, and Wikipedia pages will significantly simplify your literature study.

Choosing the appropriate papers is only one aspect of the challenge. Document reading, in particular, is an art, and you must learn how to determine within a few moments if a paper is valuable to you or not. This is especially true when the number of citations in GS is in the hundreds. I frequently advise my pupils to strive for 3 levels of paper reading in order to prevent being sucked into an infinite loop of reading. The levels should be roughly as follows:

Level 1: Study the abstract and first paragraph of the introduction quickly to determine the relevance of the material.

Level 2: Study the Abstract, Introduction, Problem Definition, Numerical Findings, and Conclusion sections to gain a general understanding of the paper’s primary contributions, even if you do not comprehend all of the specifics.

Level 3: At this level, only just few articles should be read. Such articles frequently serve as the foundation for your own study, and in such case, you should thoroughly comprehend all of the paper’s specifics.

There are several more elements that are more significant to postgraduate who conduct research for a livelihood, such as visiting conferences and participating in seminars, but they may fall outside the scope of this issue.



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