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Literature Reviews

This guide explains what a literature review is and includes links to example literature reviews, along with search tips

Key Strategies

Find the formal or technical vocabulary for your topic

-Scientific names of a crop/plant

-Formal names of methods, diseases, techniques/procedures, etc.


Find the correct mix of broad/specific

This comes from PRACTICING your search and evaluating your results

-Mix and match parts of your topic that you're searching (example- if you have a geographic/area focus, you might want to exclude that in some searches to make sure you're getting some of the key parts of the overall topic)

-Expect to use more than one set of search words during this process and keep track of which ones you've used before. 


Search at UW is a two-part search

Although Search at UW looks like Google, it actually has a lot more search features for you to use! The more features that you use, the more precise your results will be. 


On the left-hand side of your search results, there is a gray "Refine My Results" area (see the screencap below). These features allow you to remove results that aren't helpful or focus in on important features like peer-reviewed articles, articles instead of books, etc. The videos in the Part 1 and Part 2 tab of this guide explain this in more detail. 

picture of Refine My Results in Search at UW


Troubleshooting your searches

-If you're getting too few results, try to remove some search words or some of your search limits 

-If your results has a lot of unrelated content, you can exclude certain subjects by looking at the topic words in the gray box on the left-hand side of your results in Search at UW. If you hover over one of the words on the right side of the word, an orange check box will appear. If you click on that orange check box, the search will run again without results matching that topic. This is super helpful for cases when a word is commonly used outside of the sciences (example- Blackberry the phone versus blackberries the crop). 

-If you're getting a lot of news articles or low-quality results, be sure to check the "peer reviewed" checkbox in the gray box on the left-hand side of your search results. This will limit to articles that have gone through a scholarly review process.