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Universiteitsbibliotheek – LibGuides

Training Master Youth Studies: Introduction


This LibGuide helps you set up a (systematic) literature review. In this LibGuide you focus on one (sub)question. The assignments in this LibGuide belong to the first six steps of the 'step-by-step plan for a systematic literature review' (see box below).

Please follow the tabs of this LibGuide from left to right. On each page you will find an assignment at the top left. The other boxes on the page will give you information helping you to complete the assignments. Please make sure to write down the results of your assignments , for example on the included form (see file below). In this way you create a useful overview and it will be easier to retrace your steps.

Lots of success!

Step-by-step plan for a systematic literature review

1. Formulate a research question (including determining the inclusion criteria)

2. Carry out a literature search

3. Screen the literature you found on relevance (based on title and abstract)

4. Get hold of the full text of the relevant literature

5. Do a quality check

6. Data extraction: extract data from the relevant studies 

7. Data analysis and data synthesis: interpreting the data from the different studies and trying to cluster the results so that it leads to an answer to the research question

8. Writing and editing your literature review


N.B. Steps 6, 7 and 8 will not be dealt with in this practical, but remain part of your research plan.

What is a (systematic) literature review?

A (systematic) literature review is a literature review specially designed to select and assess individual studies which relate to a specific research question and to combine the results. This must be done in a clear and reproducible way.

A systematic literature review includes:

  • clear inclusion criteria: what criteria does a study have to meet to be included in the literature review?
  • a systematic search strategy in which you specify your research question as explicitly as possible
  • data extraction: what results can I derive from the different studies?
  • data analysis: a descriptive comparison of the results of individual studies

So: a (systematic) literature review is an overview of all available (empirical) studies around a specific research question (if necessary viewed within a certain period). In particular for newcomers in a certain research field such an overview can be of enormous help. Also the fact that the results of certain studies are clustered leads to a good quality answer to your research question.

Why is this important?

  • Before you can formulate a correct hypothesis you need a good overview of the literature
  • Later on you will use the literature review in your research plan. In this plan you must be able to give each (sub)question an empirical and theoretical basis. Together with for instance explaining the social and scientific relevance of your question, the literature review is the basis of your introduction.
  • Finally it is important that you learn to look at scientific literature with a critical eye and learn to assess the work of others at its true value.