Search Strategies for Literature Reviews: Author Searching (pt. 1)

Welcome to the Search Strategies for Literature
Review tutorial series. The goals of this tutorial series
are to provide context for literature reviews that you will be undertaking as you continue your undergraduate and graduate programs. We’ll address the foundational skills of accessing
information using effective, well-designed search strategies and the most appropriate information sources. We’ll focus on search strategies that will guide you to recognize the development of scholarly research on your topic or in your field. More specifically, we’ll practice the author
search, backward search and forward search. Writing a literature review is an inevitable
part of being a student, scholar, or researcher. So before spending hours of time searching
the literature, it helps to understand what a literature review is and why it’s important. You may have to do a lit review as part of
a course assignment or perhaps a capstone project,
or later on as part of a master’s thesis or dissertation. No matter the context of the lit review, it is an essential part of the research process.
The process of researching and reviewing the literature helps you to understand the topic and to develop your own perspective based on solid information. It lets you show your instructor what you
know about a topic, but more importantly, it helps you understand
the foundations for evidence-based practice in your field. Understanding the literature provides background that supports why practitioners work with their clients in a particular way. It also provides background for why certain
standards for practice are in place. Let’s start our focus on search strategies
with the author search. In your first assignment,
you began exploring key journals in associations that support research
in the field of child language development. As you browse articles, you may have come
across one that particularly caught your attention. In this case, I found
“Early word object associations and later language development.”
This article is spot on my topic, so I decide to find out whether one or more
of these authors published other research on the same or a similar topic. When multiple authors are listed, the order
doesn’t always mean much. Authors may be listed alphabetically and may
have contributed equally to the research and writing. The first author may be the primary author of the paper, in which case, the additional
authors may be research assistants or doctoral candidates. In other words, don’t stop your research at the first author listed.
She may not have extensive research experience behind her, but one of the other authors might. In this case, the three authors are university
colleagues, and with a bit of research I find that the
last author, Janet Werker, has done extensive research in speech perception in infancy. But the collection of her research papers
in hand, I can begin to get an idea of how active a researcher she is.
And judging from the journals that accept her work for publication,
such as First Language, I may begin to get an idea of the potential quality of her work. How can I do this efficiently you might ask.
Let’s take a look. (Continue to Part 2 of this series.)

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