Mapping Literature vol. 1

Literature can be overwhelming and one way to cope with this is through mapping. I have found the article A Guide to Writing the Dissertation Literature Review by Justus Randolph (2009) really helpful in the initial work, and now I am following the steps in the book The Literature Review – Six Steps to Success by Lawrence A. Machi and Brenda T. McEvoy. The steps are as follows:

Step 1: Select a topic

Step 2: Search the literature

Step 3: Develop the argument

Step 4: Survey the literature

Step 5: Critique the literature

Step 6: Write the review

After I had searched the literature (including several iterations and the other aspects mentionen in Randolph’s article), I have started mapping it. First I made small cards including the title of the publication, authors, publication details and keywords. I printet them out, and started dividing them into major topics. The main topics in my case was “building renovation”, “Building Sustainability Assessment” and “Decision Making”. I decorated my office wall and started noticing some new, smaller topic clusters and connections. In the process I have marked the publications I found “highly relevant” with a star, mostly the papers that gives me a good overview of the specific topic.

Having my literature represented on my office wall is  actually quite nice, as it is visual in a different way than in my reference system (I use Mendeley). Next step is to put some colour to the different categories, simplify the map and start to analyze the literature to develop the argument. Stay tuned 😉



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