If you are doing a literature-based project you will need to do a much more thorough and systematic literature search and analysis of the literature. Like a lab-based project you should still be devising a research question to answer by identifying a gap in knowledge.
You should not just produce a descriptive summary of the literature. Instead you will need to compare results reported in the literature. using the existing studies to answer your research question. Evaluate the literature you find for inclusion and quality. You should aim to add to the knowledge by producing your own graphs, tables or data drawn from the literature to create new interpretations of the knowledge.
For general guidance, and a list of potential databases to search, see:
Not all literature driven projects are identical and different techniques and styles will be required depending on the topic you are researching, for example you could be carrying out a systematic review, critical review or meta-analysis using the literature. Therefore it is important that you speak with your supervisor at the beginning of the project to identify the style of literature analysis you will be carrying out. See this guide to different types of review from Duke University:
Whatever type of literature-based project you are doing, you may be asked to use many of the approaches and tools used in a systematic review. Take a look at the videos below and at our step-by-step guide for detailed help:
In some cases literature driven projects are similar to journal review articles that bring together and analyse all the research on a particular topic. However it is still a research project it should include:
The skills of note-making, referencing, structuring and writing explored in the 'Analysing the literature' pages in this guide will all be very relevant to your project. Your analysis of the literature will be woven throughout most chapters of your whole report as opposed to being found in a single literature review/introduction section (as in a lab-based project).
Most health-related systematic reviews will involve a search on PubMed. But do you know how to create the most effective search strategy to take advantage of the Medical Subject Headings (MeSH)? This video created by John Hopkins University explains all the steps involved in ensuring your search is as comprehensive as possible.
These steps are largely the same as those for doing a systematic review. Following these will give you a structured approach to your literature search, even if you aren't doing a systematic review.
Consult the systematic review guide for more detail on these steps:
An introduction to planning your systematic review.
You will need to login using your University email address and password to view the videos.
See also our detailed guide to doing a systematic review:
This video covers the first four steps in doing a systematic review, including creating a protocol and searching for literature.
This video covers the fifth and sixth steps in doing a systematic review. It focuses on using Desktop EndNote to manage references and screening the literature.
The final in a series of four videos on systematic reviews which covers writing it up.
Your librarian and your supervisor can help with the steps listed on this page.
Contact your supervisor with advice on your protocol (Step 2) and pulling together your findings (Step 9).
Contact your librarian for advice on all other steps, especially selecting relevant databases, constructing your search strategy and using a reference manager: