Characteristics of Related Literature Research


Related literature research expands the exploration of a topic. The capacity for online searches has made the task of learning about a subject infinitely more efficient, thanks to both the wealth of research resources available online and the ease of access to full texts. Typically an article includes a list of sources similar to the topic that can be found online and in print. This list can be invaluable in extending knowledge on the topic or in suggesting offshoots of it that may broaden research.

Search Terms

  • When you research a topic, most of the articles located online will point to related sources, either by links attached to subject terms in the text or in a related literature list at the end of the article. The links or lists suggest additional search terms that can assist in finding more information on the topic. Additional research avenues may also be listed under "references," "further reading" or in an "external links" section at the end of an article.

Existing Research

  • Scanning the list of literature related to a topic will indicate how thoroughly it has been covered and variously interpreted. The titles indicate what aspects of the topic are emphasized. For instance, a list on an over-the-counter supplement will contain a range of related sources, some that indicate potential side effects of the product, others that cite studies demonstrating its effectiveness. The titles will also indicate the authors or publishers of the research, which vary from commercial to academic or public information sources.

Potential Research

  • What is not on the list is equally significant. The titles will indicate whether the precise information needed can be found through this search or if other search terms may be used to refine it. The literature related to environmentally-friendly construction materials, for example, may not locate information on a specific flooring product, and the search may need to be altered. Many online sites list related search terms that will yield alternate lists.

Extended Research

  • The related literature search may also indicate aspects of the topic that have not yet been covered or related topics that are equally significant. The list can help to narrow a topic or suggest new angles on a subject that may be explored. A list on green building products may indicate a wealth of sources on solar materials and suggest confining research to that term, or it may demonstrate that more research needs to be done covering other products.

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