How to become a literature searching ninja

interesting way to think about research

The Thesis Whisperer

We often talk about ‘searching the literature’ – but how do you actually do it?

Literature searches are one of those skills that we assume students already have when they get into a PhD. As a consequence we rarely make time to explicitly teach the skills, so it’s probably not surprising that I meet many students who feel like they aren’t doing it ‘right’. Many of these confused students are too afraid to ask for help from their supervisor. I think the fear comes from the feeling that you should know, even if you have never been properly taught.

This fear, by the way, is a good example of the effects of what my friend Dr Mary-Helen Ward would call the ‘hidden curriculum’ of the PhD. The hidden curriculum is created by the environment in which you are located and instills you with the norms and values of your academic…

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