Day 12: How to filter the academic literature

60/60: 60 short videos for PhD students in 60 days

Looking for day 14? I sent the wrong link in a recent email… You can find day 14 on how to tell good research from bad here

In the last few videos, I’ve talked about starting with the most influential, groundbreaking papers before going into an iterative process of reading the less influential material.
To do this, you need a way of filtering the literature so you can decide where to put your attention. I do this with 4 categories; A, B, C & D.
The A-rated papers are the absolute best and most relevant sources. These are the ones that significantly affect your work (i.e., if you took them away, your work would be completely different). There will be relatively few of these, but you will read them many, many times.
The B-rated papers are high quality and relevant, but maybe not quite essential. They influence the way you think, but your work doesn’t absolutely rely upon them. There will be a lot more of these.
The Cs are not clearly relevant, but maybe interesting? They’re OK, and perhaps very important to someone else, but not to you. You can keep these and look at them again later if you need to.
The D rated papers are either not at all relevant or just low quality. There could be thousands of these. Don’t spend any time on them.
Remember, you can always re-categorise the papers later. It’s an iterative process!

8 thoughts on “Day 12: How to filter the academic literature”

  1. I am busy with my research proposal. A lot has been written about the topic I am interested in. I am now confused as to what and how to select relevant information for my study. please help. My topic is about the experiences of teachers about the integration of value based education in the school curriculum. I am exploring their perceptions about the teaching of values in schools. thank you

  2. Really like this video. It’s helpful to categorise the literature to make it easier where to put my focus. Thanks!

  3. Thank you sir for the information. Please sir I need your help to guide me forward on my thesis. I developed an interactive multimedia tutorial for secondary schools and presently ready for pilot test. My sample are four secondary schools. My Question here is that, should I use one school for the pilot test or select few students randomly from the target population?

    • There are two things to test; one is the multimedia system itself, the other is your research method.

      Both of these you should do on a very small scale first, then gradually scale up. There are a lot of things that could go wrong, so you want to find as many of these as possible before you try to get the bulk of the data.

      Some of it you can test on other PhD students or friends just to make sure the systems work!

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