How to write a literature review

More often than not, I embark on assignments with very little preparation, so I end up learning things on the job. Admittedly, it is an inefficient way of doing things, but I rarely appreciate preparatory courses or materials, and only learn from their merits after the fact—when I’ve already wasted precious time. 

I just pored over a World Bank working paper on the effects of remittances on child labor supply and school attendance. Fifty seven pages in three hours—REALLY. I know I’m out of practice, and I’ve never used propensity score matching so I kept re-reading sentences. But REALLY. Wow. That’s half my day. I can’t keep this pace, otherwise, I’ll get fired. (But then, I haven’t been hired yet. So maybe I’ll never get that contract, or be banned forever. I don’t know.)

It occurred to me how UP has purposely left us alone in many aspects of our academic life, giving us requirements but not any clue how to get there. This includes the research process, and had I been smarter back in college, I would’ve googled and read everything there was to learn about how to do research. But we all mature in due time. I think.

So now, these questions burn through, amid brain-mush:

  1. How long should it take to read a journal article, anyway?
  2. What should I be looking for?
  3. How to evaluate which ones to include, and which ones not to?
  4. How long should it take to write a literature review?

And some answers (I’m too tired to summarize):

How to read a scientific article

Doing a literature review

In general, a literature review has two key elements: First, it should summarize the findings or claims that have emerged from prior research efforts on the subject. Second, a literature review should reach a conclusion about how accurate and complete knowledge is; it should present your considered judgments about what’s right, what’s wrong, what’s inconclusive, and what’s missing in the existing literature… [A] literature review is a work of synthesis.

Writing the literature review/using the literature

How to write a scientific literature review

Five tips on how to be more effectual in your literature review

The literature review: Knowing where to stop