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Checklist

 

Use this reading checklist before starting to write your literature review.

Authority

  • Who conducted the research?
  • Is the author an authority in their field of study?
  • What evidence is there to support this?
  • Research can find information from many sources, e.g. volumed journals to company reports. At all times, you must check the authority of who has written the research. The internet has given people access to huge amounts of information. Some of this is valid, other parts are not. You cannot simply accept that all information/research available on the internet, e.g. through Google, is valid. Many university libraries, such as the RMIT library, subscribe to online, referenced journals, which provide current academic writings.
  • Google is a great source of information, though you may be cautious in using this approach for all your research. The Learning Lab's page "Why can't I just Google it?" has more.

Validity (of research and sources)

  • Where has this research come from?
  • Is it from a valid source, e.g. an educational institution?
  • Is it peer reviewed or been passed by an editorial panel, e.g. is it in a refereed journal?
  • If it is from a website, does it contain details of the author, is it from an '.edu' site, does it have a publication date?

Many libraries, including the RMIT library, have access to electronic journals and databases. These contain qualified, academic writings. Be careful of doing a google search that brings up unqualified sites.

Accuracy

  • What is the literature about?
  • Is the literature accurate and how do you know? One way to find out is to check if the same research is referred to in other sources, or is it inconsistent with other findings?
  • What makes the literature believable? Is the literature from credible sources?

Objectivity

  • Is there evidence of bias in the article? For example, would you trust research from a cigarette manufacturer claiming that smoking does not damage your health?
  • Do the statistics match those in other publications? If not, is the argument (method, research design, etc.) on which they are based convincing?
  • How do you know the data is true? What other supporting data is there?

Currency

  • What is the publication date of the material?
  • Is it likely that more current information is available?
  • Have you found any more recent research that casts doubt upon or refutes some findings?
  • Have you checked for more recent information/research? It is advisable to have references that are current.

Coverage

  • Is the information complete? Based on your research so far, does the information appear to cover the area being studied?
  • What is the sample size? Is it adequate?
  • Is there any further research that has not been mentioned or deliberately omitted from the findings?

Location

  • In which country was the article written?
  • Is the location relevant/important to your research?

Final check

When you have considered all the questions above, ask yourself:

  • What does this all mean?