The following tool will help you learn how to conduct a solid review of literature. To do so, you will have to answer the questions posed in the form you will find on the lower left side, while checking the resources provided on the right side.

Step 1: Positionality

Positionality is the notion that identity, paradigmatic views, and location in time and space influence how one understands the world. Consequently, it is essential to take into account positionality before engaging in research, including research synthesis. Learn more about identity, approaches or paradigmatic views such as positivism, interpretivism, constructivism, and others here

Step 2: Purposes & Objectives of LR

The second step in the generation of the literature review design is setting purposes and objectives that will drive the review process.  Your searching strategies, the literature analysis, and even a review structure depend on the purposes of a review, the same way as the goals and research questions in a research study shape its design. Learn more about the purposes and objectives of a traditional literature "nested" in a research study and a research synthesis.

Step 3: Topic, Areas of Study, & Initial Research Question

There are key things to think about before you start searching for literature or conduct research synthesis.  You should define and narrow your topic. Since each disciplinary domain has its own thesaurus, index, and databases,  contemplate in which disciplines or areas of study your research synthesis will be conducted. Formulate the initial research question that you will develop further during the search for the literature and the design step. Learn more here.

 

Step 4: Theoretical & Conceptual Framework

The conceptual & theoretical framework of your study is the system of concepts, assumptions, expectations, beliefs, and theories that supports and informs your research. It is a formulation of what you think is going on with what you are studying—a tentative theory of what is happening and why. Read more about "concepts" and how to search for and clarify them, how to find a relevant theory,  here.

 

Step 5: Literature Review Design

Secondary data analysis and review of literature involve collecting and analyzing a vast array of information and sources.  To help you stay focused, your first step should be to develop a research design or a step-by-step plan or a protocol that guides data collection and analysis. Get familiar with different types if the research designs on this page.

Step 6: Secondary Data Collection

As with any research study, the basic purpose of data collection is to create a systematically organized set of materials that will be analyzed or interpreted. Any type of reviews, not only a systematic review,  benefit from applying relatively systematic methods of searching and collecting secondary data. In this part of the guide, I describe sampling methods, instruments (or searching techniques), and organization of sources.

Step 7: Secondary Data Analysis

The seventh step regards the selection and definition of the data analysis strategies that will be used in your study, depending on the research approach followed. You can find here resources that might be of help to better understand the way data analysis work. 

Step 8: Synthesis

After analyzing studies or literature in a depth and the systematic way one should move to the iterative process of exploring, commonalities and contradictions across relevant studies, emergent themes in order to build a theory, frame future research, or creating a final integrated presentation of finding. Find out more here.

Step 9: Quality & Ethics of LR

Ethical considerations of conducting literature reviews and the issues of quality are not widely discussed in the literature. Consult this guide where you will find references to work on ethics of conducting systematic reviews, checklists for quality of meta-analysis and research synthesis.