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Writing a Literature Review in STEM

This guide will help those in the STEM disciplines get started on writing a literature review.

2 Ways for Citation Tracking

Two common ways for tracking references or citations to specific authors and/or articles:

1. Forward chaining:
Search an article/book at a Citation Indexes database, then locate the related works that cited the article/book. 

  • Google Scholar 
  • Social Sciences Citation Index (through Web of Science database)

2. Backward chaining:
Use an article/book for a starting point. Review "References" "Bibliography" or "Works Cited" section of the publication. Trace back and locate the previous publications on the subject, by searching article databases, library catalogs or Google Scholar

For example, if a paper on "ocean acidification" was published in 2007, use the backward chaining method to locate the works published in or before 2007. Use the forward chaining method to find the publications that cited the 2007 paper. The publications were most likely to be published in or after 2007. Use both backward and forward chaining methods to identify a citation network. 

Google Scholar

1) At Google Scholar, enter keywords 

2) Once you locate the most relevant article, click "Cited by" or"Related articles" under the search result to explore similar articles. 

Web of Science: Cited Reference Search

1) At Web of Science database select "Cited Reference Search" mode

2) At the Cited Reference Search page, enter author's name (last name only is acceptable), cited work is the title of the journal the article was published in (you can change this filed to Cited Title to enter in Keywords for search) and the date of publication. 
 

3) Next click on the "Show Extended Titles" to see the full names of the citation, this important because a researcher can publish on the same topic multiple times a year and you want to make sure to pick the correct article.

4) It is also important to know that some times there are variation because a paper could be improperly cited in another paper, thus multiple records for the same paper. 

 

5) The results page will show you that the Hoegh-Guldber's 2007 paper on ocean acidification was cited by 2,144 other publications (as of October 2017). You can sort the results by relevance, # of times cited, author, publication dates, etc. Please note that the recent publications are not cited by others yet. 
 

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