The skills and understanding needed to effectively critically review the literature can be defined as information literacy skills. Information literate researchers "will demonstrate an awareness of how they gather, use, manage, synthesize and create information and data in an ethical manner and will have the information skills to do so effectively" (SCONUL, 2011).
There are seven key areas, based on the SCONUL Seven Pillars of Information Literacy, that this guide will address. The seven pillars are:
Identify: The ability to identify a need for information to address the research question.
Scope: The ability to assess current knowledge and identify gaps.
Plan: The ability to construct strategies for locating information and data.
Gather: The ability to locate and access the information and data needed.
Evaluate: The ability to review the research process and compare and evaluate information and data.
Manage: The ability to organize information professionally and ethically.
Present: The ability to apply the knowledge gained, present results, synthesize new and previous knowledge to create new knowledge and disseminate in a variety of ways.
These seven key areas should not be seen as discrete steps to be followed in sequence. Instead, your literature review should be seen as an iterative process. You may have to revisit some of the steps as you refine or alter your research focus. The information landscape, unique to your research focus, is constantly changing with new publications, insights and techniques.
* Based on The SCONUL Seven Pillars of Information Literacy: A Research Lens for Higher Education
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