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Community and Behavioral Health

Research Guide for the Community & Behavioral Health track for Public Health. Resources for courses PH706 and PH725

Developing a Research Workflow

Conducting a literature search and assessing the results can be broken down into a process, but that process also gets repeated often throughout a project.

Here are some steps that can be taken to help you along the way.

  1. Make a bank of keywords and phrases that you generate around your various concepts. in your first searches start to figure out what the preferred terminology is by trying to find Subject Terms like MeSH terms, which can be looked up in PubMed.
  2. Also in that early search phase, if you are overwhelmed by irrelevant results, see if any terms you do not need appear often, consider adding a NOT exclusion to your search, and recording that in your Keyword Bank.
  3. Once you do a few practice searches and you feel more confident in your results, start keeping track and exporting your results to a Citation Manager, like Zotero (see the Citing Sources Page for more information)
  4. When you read articles that you think will work for your project, record a summary and analysis with annotations for each. Make sure to note the author, date of publication, title and journal.

How to Write a Literature Review

  1. Find the Relevant Literature - Do the digging! Consider setting up a research consultation if you are struggling to locate relevant information.
  2. Log, Catalog, and Synthesize the literature 
    • Log your articles by importing them into a Citation Manager like Zotero, EndNote or Mendeley (see Citation Managers) - It will save you time!
    • You won't remember every point from the literature, so make notes about key points and takeaways and where they occur in something like an evidence table or a Notes Catalog in Excel that summarizes important information and connects it to the author, date, and title. Pro-tip:  Keep it granular
    • Digest and Synthesize - figure out how it all fits together. Spend time thinking about how the literature answers your research questions and how it fits together. Take a step back and look at the Bigger Picture.
  3. Outline and Write it
    • Outline it first - plug in the details from your notes catalog with major thematic or chronological headings and details that follow.
    • Write it - let the outline be your guide to craft the literature review. Use a plug-in from your citation manager to insert in-text citations and format bibliographies. Double check with the correct Citation Manual to make sure you are correct.
      • Perfection is not the objective of your first draft. get the content down.
      • Use a second draft to polish and clean up.

Tips from The Grad Coach