I’ve just submitted the first paper for my graduate studies – a literature review. Having not yet taken the (mandatory) research methods module offered as part of my program and having spent 2 of the ~4 weeks I had to work on the paper travelling and at conferences – I am left with the feeling that I’ve not done as well as I’d like. Though I’m happier with the paper than I was 24hrs before the submission deadline I’m trying to analyse my process and work out the kinks.
My basic process for this paper was:
- Choose a rough topic (we had a choice of two from the module leader).
- Find ~15-20 papers on this topic – collect them with some paper managing software and (automatically) tag them with related metadata.
- Start reading papers.
- Take notes whilst reading the paper.
- As soon as possible after reading the paper write a quick summary/review.
- Note interesting referenced papers and add them to the collection.
- Stop at 11 papers, reject one as not good enough to include in the review.
- Figure out a layout for the review based on the themes of the reviewed papers.
- Transpose the summary/review pieces into the paper layout.
- Iterate over the paper fleshing out the summary/reviews and determining some form of conclusion.
- Conclude – in this case pretty poorly.
- More iterations for flow, grammar, style, etc. until the deadline arrives.
I think my biggest mistakes were:
- Curating most of the papers to review before starting to read – I think I could curate a set of papers with a higher correlation, that therefore lead to a stronger conclusion, by starting with a smaller set of papers and utilising more of the references in those papers.
- Not giving myself enough time to actually pull the reviews together – this wasn’t a conscious decision, mind you.
Having not written a real paper before (discounting any undergraduate efforts) and missing the techniques from the research methods class I’m curious to hear how other folks handle such work?
P.S: my first real use of LyX, what a great program!