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ECON-3490-70 Field Experiments

What is a Literature Review

A literature review compiles and examines scholarly articles, books, and other relevant sources within a specific area or sub-area to comprehensively summarize the key findings and discussions on a subject. This review can either stand as an independent document or form a section or chapter of a thesis or research paper related to the subject. The objectives of conducting a literature review include:

  • Concisely summarizing the existing research within the field.
  • Assessing the credibility of the evidence and the claims' validity.
  • Demonstrating the relationships between various published works.
  • Situating your own research amongst the broader scholarly conversations in the field.

A literature review merges the summarization and synthesis of the discussed literature. It outlines the key points from sources relevant to your topic and identifies any potential gaps in the literature.


Question to Consider

  1. How does my literature review contribute to clarifying the specific thesis, problem, or research question under investigation?
  2. What kind of literature review am I undertaking? Is it focused on theoretical issues, methodologies, policy analysis, quantitative evidence (for example, evaluating the efficacy of a new intervention), or qualitative insights (such as examining the experiences of loneliness among migrant workers)?
  3. What is the extent of my literature review's coverage?
  4. What kinds of sources am I incorporating in my review (for instance, academic journals, books, government reports, or mass media)?
  5. How effective was my approach to gathering information? Was my search comprehensive enough to capture all pertinent material? Was it sufficiently focused on omitting irrelevant information? Is the volume of sources I've consulted appropriate for the length of my paper?
  6. Have I engaged in a critical analysis of the sources I've reviewed? Do I approach the literature with a specific set of concepts and questions, making comparisons across different sources based on how they address these issues? Rather than merely listing and summarizing sources, have I evaluated them, highlighting their strengths and limitations?
  7. Have I acknowledged and discussed research findings that challenge my own viewpoint?
  8. Will readers find my literature review to be relevant, appropriate, and beneficial?


Online Resources to get started


AI Resources to help with Creating a Literature Review

Resource table created by Georgetown University Library

Elicit Using large language models (LLMs), Elicit finds papers relevant to your topic by searching through papers and citations and extracting and synthesizing key information. Semantic Scholar Database Free trial available. Pay for credits after trial expires. Elicit FAQs (older version FAQs)
Perplexity Using LLMs, perplexity is a search engine that provides AI-generated answers (much like ChatGPT), including citations which are linked above the summaries. Internal search index Free with paid subscriptions available. Perplexity FAQs
Consensus Similar to Elicit, Consensus uses LLMs to help researchers find and synthesize answers to research questions, focusing on the scholarly authors' findings and claims in each paper. Semantic Scholar Database Free (20 searches/month); Paid version allows unlimited searching. Consensus FAQs
Semantic Scholar Semantic Scholar (which supplies underlying data for many of the other tools on this list) provides brief summaries ('TLDR's) of the main objectives and results of papers. Semantic Scholar Database Semantic Scholar is currently free. Semantic Scholar FAQs
Research Rabbit Research Rabbit is a citation-based mapping tool that focuses on the relationships between research works. It uses visualizations to help researchers find similar papers and other researchers in their field. Research Rabbit uses multiple databases but does not name them (more information can be found on the FAQ page). Research Rabbit is currently free. Research Rabbit FAQs
Connected Papers Like Research Rabbit, Connected Papers focuses on the relationships between research papers to find similar research. You can also use Connected Papers to get a visual overview of an academic field. Semantic Scholar Database Free (5 graphs/month); paid version allows unlimited graphing. Connected Papers - About
scite scite has a suite of products that help researchers develop their topics, find papers, and search citations in context (describing whether the article provides supporting or contrasting evidence)  Many different sources (an incomplete list can be found on this page) No. (Pricing information) scite FAQshow scite works
Scholarcy Scholarcy summarizes key points and claims of articles into 'summary cards' that researchers can read, share, and annotate when compiling research on a given topic. Scholarcy only uses research papers uploaded or linked by the researcher themselves. It works as a way to help you read and summarize your research but is not a search engine. Free (short articles only); Paid version allows articles of any length. Scholarcy FAQs
ChatGPT While the AI chatbot ChatGPT is typically thought of as a writing tool, it can be used in the initial idea development phase of research, and can also be of use in finding further sources. (Remember to always look up sources to verify their credibility.) The paid versions of ChatGPT are currently connected to the internet through Bing. The free version was trained on data last updated in September 2021, but that is likely to change. There is a free version available. OpenAI Help Center - ChatGPT
Gemini Designed by Google, Gemini (formerly Bard) is an AI-powered chatbot that responds to natural language queries with relevant information. As with ChatGPT, researchers can use Gemini to aid in topic development and initial source discovery. Gemini can currently connect to the Internet. Gemini is currently free to use. (Personal Google account required, does not work with GU accounts.) Gemini FAQ