Thursday, January 27, 2011

Literature review - The sequel

I previously wrote about my method of tackling the giant mountain of papers I want to read for my literature review.

As suggested in the comments, I changed my way of organizing the printed copies of the papers. Instead of having them organized by subject - which was becoming more and more complicated, I've followed the suggestion to organize them alphabetically on last name of the first author.

Since I had already worked my way through more than 300 documents, it took me about 2,5 hours to reorganize my binders full of material. But I don't think that was a waste of time, contrarily, it gave my very interesting insights.

As I was organizing the papers by author, I started to question myself. I had one small binder with my "most important" papers. Somehow, I discovered that most of the papers I read were actually fitting into the story I  am building up in my mind.

My research topic is somewhere in the middle of three different topics. I'm pulling material from papers on bridge engineering (slab bridges), papers on beam shear and papers on punching shear. I've noticed that not that many authors have published material on, for example, both beam shear and punching shear. Some authors before the 1960s explored the borders of these subject, but later on researchers started to focus on one topic in particular.

Now that had all this material going through my hands again, I started to see some links. I started to notice how a basic idea was employed in different topics, and too, felt like I now can see my topic from different angles, without thinking too much in rigid subjects.

Thanks again for the comments on my previous post! As you can see, it gave me some very good ideas.

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