How the pros do it

Philip Morgan

This research paper, on the topic of whether focusing on competitor companies and market share helps financial performance, has an interesting appendix where the authors describe their research method.

Because the paper is both a publication of their own findings and a summary of related findings, they did a literature review. This is the first paper I've read where I've seen the "professionals" -- academic researchers -- describe their lit review method. (I'm sure it's not the first one to do that, just the first one I've encountered.)

It's intimidating. It's so sophisticated that I just don't know how any of us small-scale researchers could possibly replicate it, much less imitate it.

I'm kidding in that last paragraph.

Their lit review method: Googling, except at research paper search engine sites and not

That's it. Just simple keyword-based searches using specialized search engines. It's exactly that sophisticated and fancy, and the biggest investment is time and the biggest barrier to entry is not expertise, it's caring enough to dig through the results and find relevant stuff.

Here's an excerpt:

Of course there are tools and methods that professional researchers and academics have access to that are out of reach for us. This ain't one of them. :)

The following sites can be useful for a literature review:

If you can legally access paywalled research papers, do it that way. If you can't, the following are worth knowing about and I leave the question of whether to actually use them to your personal ethics: