How to create a literature review?

Given the current flood of information and a multitude of interdisciplinary research, a systematic overview of the relevant literature on a specific topic or a defined research question is an important prerequisite for scientific work.

Systematic literature reviews are based on the principle of “evidence-based” research and are intended to make the results of relevant scientific research comprehensible in a transparent manner.

Characteristic of systematic literature reviews is the open presentation of the criteria for the selection of sources and also the procedure for the literature search and search. The purpose of the concept of systematic review is that the literature search is no longer or less arbitrary, but that subjectivity and randomness are reduced through increased methodological-formal effort.

Procedure for Creating a Systematic Literature Review
A systematic literature review can be divided into several phases, which in turn can differ depending on the literature. The following is a proposal for a basic sequence of steps to prepare a systematic literature review:

I. gain an overview of the topic

Which concepts and concepts are relevant in the field of research?
Search via Google Scholar, scientific databases
Initial structuring of the topic using MindMap or similar.
II. Scientific question

  • Which question and hypotheses does the work investigate? What are the thematic boundaries?
  • Which inclusion and exclusion criteria are specified for the search?
  • Which literature and document types should be considered?
  • III. Researching the sources of literature (detailed description of the literature search)
  • Targeted search v.a. in scientific databases
  • Which search terms (and their synonyms, generic terms or sub-terms) are considered and what is their logical link?
  • Selection of the relevant papers to be reviewed in the review based on these criteria. If possible, the criteria should be deduced from the theoretical part.
  • Given the current flood of information and a multitude of interdisciplinary research, a systematic overview of the relevant literature on a specific topic or a defined research question is an important prerequisite for scientific work.

Systematic literature reviews are based on the principle of “evidence-based” research and are intended to make the results of relevant scientific research comprehensible in a transparent manner.

Characteristic of systematic literature reviews is the open presentation of the criteria for the selection of sources and also the procedure for the literature search and search. The purpose of the concept of systematic review is that the literature search is no longer or less arbitrary, but that subjectivity and randomness are reduced through increased methodological-formal effort.

Procedure for Creating a Systematic Literature Review
A systematic literature review can be divided into several phases, which in turn can differ depending on the literature. The following is a proposal for a basic sequence of steps to prepare a systematic literature review:

I. gain an overview of the topic

Which concepts and concepts are relevant in the field of research?
Search via Google Scholar, scientific databases
Initial structuring of the topic using MindMap or similar.
II. Scientific question

  • Which question and hypotheses does the work investigate? What are the thematic boundaries?
  • Which inclusion and exclusion criteria are specified for the search?
  • Which literature and document types should be considered?
  • III. Researching the sources of literature (detailed description of the literature search)

Targeted search v.a. in scientific databases
Which search terms (and their synonyms, generic terms or sub-terms) are considered and what is their logical link?
Selection of the relevant papers to be reviewed in the review based on these criteria. If possible, the criteria should be deduced from the theoretical part.

A presentation of the criteria for selecting the literature may look like this:

  • inclusion exclusion
  • Publications exclusively in German or English. Publications in studies written in a language other than German or English
  • Published from 2010 Published before the year 2010
  • Works published in peer-reviewed peer reviewed journals (e.g., VHB Journal, Basket of Eight) Letters to editor, blog posts, corporate-based websites, and the like.
  • Reports of renowned German institutions (eg Federal Statistical Office, economic institutes, etc.) Congress / conference reports (not peer-reviewed)
  • Conferences etc., at least peer-reviewed articles published in journals with a very low impact factor
  • IV. Description of the literature sources (analysis) (content evaluation, extraction of relevant information and data):
  • Which variables should be used in the evaluation of the sources?
  • Which evaluation methods (for example content analysis) are used? How are the results used?
  • Excerpts are meaningful and can be extracted or commented on with the help of reference management programs (such as Citavi).
  • Formation of evaluation categories to support or prepare the content structuring of the review.
  • Qualitative evaluation and discussion of the results (synthesis)
  • Comparison of the individual methods that use the literature sources.
  • Comparison of the results or studies on the basis of these evaluation categories, e.g.
  • Object of study (sample, case study, etc.)
  • Subject of investigation (what has been investigated)
  • Dependent and independent variables
  • Effects / results / statements in the article or study
  • Discussion and evaluation of the meaningfulness of the researched literature results -> What is known about the question in the literature? Which variables are examined? What is the research methodology (case study, meta-analysis, etc.)? Where are the limitations of the respective studies? Which areas of the research question have so far been treated uncritically or not at all?
  • If you need assistance with the preparation of your literature review, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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