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Grant Writing Support @ Clemson Libraries: Tips for Your Literature Review

Resources and tips to assist in the research and writing of grants

General Tips

1. Find your words.

  • Write down terms related to your central research question.  Try to think of ANY way that your research might be described by other research.

2. Select the databases you'll use to search for your words.

3. Keep track of your searches!

  • Write down or save searches in different databases so that you don't duplicate efforts.
  • Use RefWorks to keep track of your research citations.
  • Use the bibliographies of relevant research studies to find other related research.
  • Keep any notes for future reference.

4. Tips for reviewing the literature:

  • What was the research question of the study you are reviewing?
  • What was the funding source for the research and would that have any influence over the findings?
  • How was the research conducted?  Could it have been done better?
  • Has this research been cited in other studies?  How is the author viewed in the field?

Keyword Tips

1. Use Simple Terms

Use short, simple words or phrases. Don't type in your entire topic as one sentence.

EXAMPLE: If you're writing about "the importance of peer relationships in the developmental stage of middle childhood," search only the key words/phrases: peer relationships and development and childhood.

2. Use Search Symbols (Boolean)

or = expand your search by including different forms of a word. EXAMPLES: Stocks or bonds. Cats or felines.

" " = search for a specific phrase. EXAMPLE: "World War Two"

* = add 1-5 characters to the end of a word. EXAMPLES: Panda* finds panda and pandas. Inter* finds internal and internet.

3. Start Broad

If you get too many results, you can always narrow your search terms later.

Publically Available Research Descriptions

If you are a researcher who does not have access to Clemson databases, be sure to check with your local or institutional library. There are also a number of freely accessible databases of research: