Learning outcomes

Learning outcomes

  • Describe the main types of academic literature
  • Explain why it is important to develop inclusion and exclusion criteria
  • Identify how to effectively search for literature electronically
  • Identify additional searching strategies
  • Describe why documentation of the search strategy is important.

Using the module

Welcome to Undertaking a Literature Review. This course aims to introduce you to the processes involved in putting together a literature review, so that you are able to undertake your own comprehensive review according to the requirements of your academic project.

This module will provide guidance on the most important approaches to searching for literature.

If this is the first time you have accessed the Undertaking a Literature Review course, or if you need a brief reminder, here is some information on how the screens are organised, and some of the tools and features that are used throughout:


Content

  • The centre of each screen contains the core content for the course, presented as either text, interactive activities, graphics, videos or animations
  • Text highlighted in a box preceded by an arrow contains instructions on how to navigate the activities that follow
  • Terms highlighted like this are clickable glossary terms, and can be clicked on to access pop-up boxes containing definitions of key terms
  • Note that your responses to the notemaking and text entry activities (where you type responses in the space provided) can be printed and used as part of your ongoing work
  • Some activities include different disciplinary options for humanities, STEM and social sciences. You can select your disciplinary area by clicking on the relevant icon:You may wish to consider the examples for each discipline, or simply skip to the discipline that is relevant to you.
    • Humanities
    • STEM
    • Social sciences
  • At the top of each screen you will see an indication of the approximate time it will take to complete the core content. These estimates include time to watch videos and complete activities in the central section, but not to read the content in pods.

Poll questions

The poll questions are designed to help you think about your own situation and attitudes, and to compare your responses to those of others taking the course. Consider talking to an academic advisor about your responses.


Pods

Throughout this course, you will see additional learning opportunities in 'pods'. Exploring the information provided in the pods will enrich the learning experience.

  • Useful information Contains extra content to expand or emphasise key points from the main screen and houses links to useful external resources.
  • Interdisciplinarity Contains content that is relevant to multiple disciplinary areas.
  • Your context Contains links and information about topics specific to your context and/or institution.
  • Download Contains the glossary for the entire course.

Quiz

At the very end of each module, you have the opportunity to test your learning further with a multiple-choice quiz. This consists of five questions and can be taken more than once (a new set of questions will appear).


The Undertaking a Literature Review course is designed to gradually build up your understanding and skills. We recommend that you complete the modules in the order given, but they have been designed so you can access each of them independently according to your own requirements and those of your institution.

Expert panel

Author

Dr. Helen Aveyard

Dr. Helen Aveyard

Helen Aveyard (Ph.D., MA, PGdip, BSc, RGN) is a Principal Lecturer at Oxford Brookes University and author of the best-selling book Doing a Literature Review in Health and Social Care: A Practical Guide, 4th ed. (Open University Press, 2019). She is co-author of A Postgraduate's Guide to Doing a Literature Review in Health and Social Care (Open University Press, 2016), written with Professors Sheila Payne and Nancy Preston, in addition to A Beginner's Guide to Evidence Based Practice in Health and Social Care, 3rd ed. (Open University Press, 2017), written with Pam Sharp, and A Beginner's Guide to Critical Thinking and Writing in Health and Social Care (Open University Press, 2011), written with Pam Sharp and Mary Woolliams. Helen teaches and supervises research across undergraduate and postgraduate courses. She also supervises at doctoral and professional doctorate level. Her research interests are in teaching and publishing research.


Lead advisors

Professor Fiona Denney

Professor Fiona Denney

Fiona Denney is the Director of the Brunel Educational Excellence Centre, Brunel University London which supports learning and teaching enhancement for both staff and students. She is a member of the Executive Committee of the UK Council for Graduate Education, a Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and a Fellow of the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA). Fiona has a Ph.D. in marketing and has held academic posts in marketing and management studies. Since 2003, Fiona has worked in academic staff development and has research interests in academic leadership.

D Halliday

Dr. Douglas Halliday

Douglas Halliday is a Co-Director of Durham Energy Institute and the Director of the Multidisciplinary Centre for Doctoral Training in Energy which trains doctoral candidates across science and social sciences. The Energy CDT provides a multidisciplinary training environment helping doctoral candidates to understand the breadth and complexity of the whole energy system. He helped organise the 2017 UK Council for Graduate Education International Conference on Developments in Doctoral Education and Training. Previously, he was Dean of Durham's Graduate School from 2005-2010 and a recipient of a 2009 THE Award for Outstanding Support for Early Career Researchers. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Physics, the Higher Education Academy and the Energy Institute.


Reviewers

Dr. Susan R. Hemer

Dr. Susan R. Hemer

Susan Hemer (Ph.D., GradDip AbSt, BAHons) is a Senior Lecturer in Anthropology and Development Studies at the University of Adelaide, Australia. Susan is a postgraduate coordinator and teaches research methods for postgraduates. She has recently won the Stephen Cole the Elder Fellow Award for HDR supervisory practices (2019). Susan has supervised over ten Ph.D. students to completion, and has published on the supervisory relationship. Her research is focused in Papua New Guinea with over four years of ethnographic fieldwork, on medical and psychological anthropology, and horgendered relationships.

Dr. Andrea Macrae

Dr. Andrea Macrae

Andrea Macrae is a Principal Lecturer in Student Experience at Oxford Brookes University. She is the author of Discourse Deixis in Metafiction (Routledge, 2019) and is the co-editor of Pronouns in Literature: Positions and Perspectives in Language (Palgrave, 2018). She has published on deixis in several journals and edited collections.

Professor Mary McNamara

Professor Mary McNamara

Mary McNamara (CChem, FRSC) is Head of the Graduate Research School, Technological University Dublin, Ireland. She graduated with a honours degree from the Royal Society of Chemistry and obtained a Ph.D. in Physical Inorganic Chemistry from University College Dublin. Mary was a member (2012–2018) of the steering committee of the Council of Doctoral Education of the European Universities Association and, in Ireland, she is a member of the National Forum on Research Integrity. Mary is also a member of the National Advisory Forum for Ireland's National Framework for Doctoral Education. She is a fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry and an active researcher in the development of novel drug delivery systems.

Dr. Tina Ramkalawan

Dr. Tina Ramkalawan

Tina Ramkalawan is Director of the Graduate School at Brunel University London, where she leads the University's strategy for researcher development. She has a background in multidisciplinary collaborative research, with particular expertise in psychology, health and epidemiology. Her doctoral research was at the MRC Institute of Hearing Research, University of Nottingham, with a focus on outcomes for hearing-impaired children. Her work contributed to the establishment of the UK NHS Newborn Hearing Screening Programme. Tina has initiated and managed doctoral and post-doctoral programmes funded by the Medical Research Council. She is also a Chartered Psychologist and a qualified coach and mentor. Her research publications cover the areas of disability and health research.

Professor David V. Thiel

Professor David V. Thiel

David Thiel is a Professor in the School of Engineering and Built Environment and Director of the Griffith University Sport Technology (GUST) Laboratories at Griffith University, Australia. He authored the book Research Methods for Engineers (Cambridge University Press, 2014) and co-authored Switched Parasitic Antennas for Cellular Communications (Artech House, 2002). He has authored six book chapters and over 150 journal papers, and has co-authored more than nine patent applications.

His research interests include electromagnetic geophysics, sensor development, electronics systems design and manufacture, antenna development for wireless sensor networks, environmental sustainability in electronics manufacturing, sports engineering and mining engineering.

David is a Fellow of the Institution of Engineers, Australia, and a Chartered Professional Engineer in Australia.

Dr. Nicholas Walliman

Dr. Nicholas Walliman

Nicholas Walliman is a qualified architect and Associate Lecturer in the School of the Built Environment at Oxford Brookes University. After many years of practice in architecture in the UK and abroad, he returned to academic life to do his Ph.D. This experience raised his interest in research theory and methods, and he has subsequently published a number of books on research theory and methods and writing dissertations and theses, aimed at students and practitioners from undergraduate to doctoral levels of expertise. He has been engaged in several national and international research projects and published numerous research papers. He supervises Ph.D. and Master's students.

Professor Gina Wisker

Professor Gina Wisker

Gina Wisker is Head of the University of Brighton's Centre for Learning and Teaching and Professor of Higher Education and Contemporary Literature. She teaches and researches in learning, teaching, postgraduate study supervision and academic writing. She has published 26 books (some edited) and over 140 articles, including The Postgraduate Research Handbook (Palgrave Macmillan, 2001; 2nd ed. 2007); The Good Supervisor (Palgrave Macmillan, 2005; 2nd ed. 2012) and Getting Published (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015). Gina has supervised 32 Ph.D. students to completion and has examined 42.

Gina also specialises in contemporary women's writing and postcolonial, Gothic and popular fictions. She is a Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, National Teaching Fellow and Senior Fellow of SEDA.


Accessibility advisor

Wilma Alexander

Wilma Alexander

Wilma Alexander is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy with Master's degrees in Human-Computer Interaction, Linguistics and Information Science. She has over 15 years of experience as a manager with the online learning team at the University of Edinburgh, where she specialised in usable and accessible digital practice, tutored on the groundbreaking Master's degree in Digital Education and developed online staff training on accessible e-learning and online tutoring skills. Since retiring from the university at the end of 2015, Wilma has provided consultancy services on all aspects of online learning, with a special focus on accessibility and usability issues.