Research and Writing Literature Reviews for SoTL

Rachel Braun, Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning 

February 28, 2018


The Library Research Guides offer a wealth of resources and strategies for research and literature reviews in multiple fields and disciplines, including SoTL. Researchers can begin by exploring the SoTL research guide, followed by the research guide for their own disciplines, then the research guide for education. From there, researchers can branch out where their SoTL inquiry takes them.

If you are trying a new research or literature review method, you can also consult SAGE Research Methods for excellent resources and strategies.

Practice effective research strategies

Regardless of your level of research accomplishment, it is essential to take notes effectively and make the best use of your writing time. Use a literature review matrix to keep track of who said what in each resource. This practice is especially helpful when researching outside your own discipline and learning new disciplinary language. You can also save time searching for literature by setting up table of contents and search alerts using the RSS feed. This way, new articles are sent to you as soon as they are posted, rather than you having to conduct the same search repeatedly.

On your mark, get set, search!

Try the following strategies for different starting points:

Starting your literature review without a clue? Head to Google Scholar

  • Click “FindIt @U of Calgary” to run a basic search through the library database
  • Click “Cited by” and mine reference lists backwards and forwards to see how the conversation has developed

Know a bit of what you are looking for?

  • Browse library databases. Start by searching with the broadest search terms you can, and then refine content into specific subjects and disciplines from there. This browsing process is key for learning how to use new disciplinary language
  • Search beyond academic journals. Within SoTL, there is a wealth of lesser-known gems sitting in non-peer-reviewed materials, such as practitioner magazines
  • Look into subject-specific places for your discipline. SoTL literature is there, it’s just a matter of digging! Also, browsing disciplinary literature is an excellent way to learn discipline-specific terminology
  • Check out PRISM, the online collection of research (articles, papers, and conference proceedings) produced by faculty, staff and students at the University of Calgary

Looking to search in SoTL directly?

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