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Search by themes

Search by themes

Video link:  Search by themes

Visual:  Title page

Narration:  This brief video will show you how to use the themes in your literature review to search more effectively for articles. 

Visual:   Themes page

Narration:  Most literature reviews are organized thematically.  Each theme builds the context for your specific research problem, but each theme can also be searched separately, making it easier to find the literature you need and keep it organized.

Visual:  Problem statement page

Narration:  For example, here’s a research problem:  What are the perceptions of parents regarding their involvement in 4th grade classrooms in elementary school?  If we’re trying to find every article on this exact topic it wouldn’t take very long because there probably aren’t many articles, if any, that include every concept here.  And finding all those articles wouldn’t really provide much context for your  literature review; it’s just too narrow a slice for the research literature.  Even though we don’t know everything about this topic yet, we can still start to pull out some key themes based on this research problem.

Visual:  Themes page

Narration:  For example, themes might include : 

What is parental involvement?  Is there literature that defines it and articulates the different activities considered to be parental involvement?

What are the benefits of this parental involvement? What effect does it have? 

What do we already know about parents perceptions ?  Perhaps we’ll also want to know what teachers and administrators perceive as well.

What programs support parental involvement?  If we think those programs could be important  to parent perceptions we would want to check the literature to see if that’s true.

And finally, is parental involvement different in the elementary grades than in middle or high school?

These are just some of the themes you may want to pursue.  Your themes will depend on the direction you want to take your literature review , and where the literature itself leads you.

Visual:  Use themes to page

Narration:  Now that you have some themes, the question is what does this get you?  Iin terms of research these themes form the basis of your initial searches.  Just looking at the themes you can see that each theme uses a different mix of keywords.  By  focusing on one thing at a time, you’ll be able to build searches that focus on just that aspect of the literature review.    A search that finds articles about perceptions of parental involvement is going to use different  search keywords to search for the benefit of parental involvement.  By working thematically, you can make sure that you focus your search on the literature you need to build the context and rationale for your own research problem.  As you find and read articles you may discover more themes or aspects of themes to pursue.  That’s great and that’s how most literature reviews grow.  The literature review is a long and complicated process.  By selecting some themes to start your search, it will go a long way toward  organizing the process and making it manageable.