Q: What to include and what not to include in our review of related literature?

Detailed Question -

Hi! I don't know what to include and what not to include in our review of related literature (RRL). I am asking for subtopics that I can include for our thesis. The topic is: Psychological and Adjustment problems faced by College Student Survivors of COVID-19

1 Answer to this question

Thank you for the interesting question!

While this depends on the scope of your study, the following process is an outline that may facilitate your choice of subtopics and literature review.

You may have a few questions in mind regarding this topic, such as the following:

  1. What are some of the coping mechanisms and resilience strategies of college students when they’re faced with stress? Are those predisposed to stress more greatly influenced by the crisis, for instance?
  2. While COVID-19 may have direct effects, it has also affected other factors such as social relationships (including those among college students) – Should we disaggregate the direct and indirect effects?
  3. Has a certain group been affected more than others? For example, have international students faced stronger effects? Are those pursuing part time jobs to finance their college education more affected?
  4. How significant are these effects? Are there parameters to gauge this, such as college attrition rates?
  5. How long are these effects expected to last in the aftermath of COVID-19?

These are, of course, just a few examples.

As a next step, you can associate each of these questions with a subject area or field; for instance, the following fields pertain to the questions listed above:

  1. Psychology
  2. Sociology (and other pertinent areas depending on the factors chosen)
  3. Demographics
  4. Statistics
  5. Management science (robustness of results)

Finally, these fields can be presented as subtopics by placing them within the context of your topic:

  1. Psychological effects of COVID-19
  2. Psychosocial effects of the health crisis
  3. Differential effects of the pandemic by demography
  4. Variables and measures of the COVID-19 effect
  5. Long-term implications of the pandemic

Accordingly, while reviewing existing literature, you can look up the subtopics listed above in literature databases. This will help you find relevant studies. To shortlist studies that are most relevant, you would need to go back to your questions and refine the search further. For example, to filter the literature on the psychological effects of COVID-19, we can go back to our question and look up key terms such as “predisposition.”

With respect to focused literature reviews, R Discovery is an extremely helpful tool: The alerts sent by R Discovery helps ensure that authors catch up with the latest publications and have immediate access to these. The platform also suggests a list of Top 3 papers daily, without authors having to scramble for this information online. Based on authors’ reading interests, R Discovery suggests matches in the form of similar papers. The platform provides key highlights of papers and is soon to launch a new feature that will enable authors to organize the literature by going through a separate feed for each discipline. Hope this was helpful. You can explore the tool here.

All the very best with your thesis!