Q&A: How do I compile results from a literature search?

Question by Christy: How do I compile results from a literature search?
I am a new undergrad research assistant in a psychology lab, and my first task was to conduct a literature search. How do I compile the results that I found? Do I simply list the citations to the sources I found in a word document? I have not yet been asked to do a literature review.

Best answer:

Answer by Dr. Joe
It may depend on whether the task is focused on quantity or quality. If quantity, then do a broad search and find any references that fit the general topic. To make the large list more useful, consider sorting it into 5-7 major subcategories.

If quality is the primary goal, be selective about the references you gather, and do an annotated bibliography. Put each reference in an alphabetized list and do a brief summary (or insert the abstract) after each one. That way a reader can quickly review the list and decide which ones are relevant. If you use the abstract, make it clear you are simply copying the abstract – do not represent it as your summary of the document.

Know better? Leave your own answer in the comments!


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