A review article, which offers a summary and analysis of published literature on a given subject, may help you narrow your research topic and inspire a new wave of ideas for searching the literature. These special articles feature extensive bibliographies, which may lead to important authors in your field of research. Study the titles of articles in the bibliographies for key works and their synonyms.
You can save yourself a lot of time by skimming a paper to determine whether or not it's relevant to your lit review topic. These articles will give you an idea of how other scientists skim a science paper.
Looking for a way to keep your work organized while you conduct a lit review? A synthesis matrix can help you keep track of your sources and notice similarities and differences between different studies.
Some people find it useful to create a matrix or spreadsheet that tracks major topics across a variety of sources. This brief handout from NC State explains what a synthesis matrix is and gives an example.
Other people find it useful to create a matrix or spreadsheet that tracks study characteristics and findings across a variety of sources. Check out Table 2 and Table 3 in this paper for examples: Racial and ethnic differences in knowledge and attitudes about genetic testing in the US: Systematic review