Step 4

Doing a literature review

This is a critical step in your training. It requires time, patience and much intellectual input. Apart from the data analysis and final writing up, this is probably the most important intellectual task. When writing up your proposal, you are going to need to access journals to do your literature review. Conduct your search using PubMed ( or Google Scholar – DO NOT USE ANY OTHER SEARCH ENGINE, particularly the commercial search engines such as google or yahoo. You will get the abstract from these site. Do NOT write your review based on abstracts. You need to obtain the full text of that article, either the hardcopy from the library, or an electronic copy.

Once you have a list of the articles that you want, you may need to go to the journal website itself to get the full text of the article. Many journals are available on-line. The university subscribes to the many online journals. As a registered student, you can download the full text of some articles either from on-campus or if you have internet access, from home, without paying.  If you wish to access this from home, then this must be done via the University proxy servers. Go to the UKZN library ezproxy page via this link. Once here, click on  e-Journals A-Z. You will then be prompted to enter your student login and password. You must have obtained this from the IT Services on campus to do this. This takes you to a page from which you can either search for a specific article or a particular journal. If the University subscribes to that journal, you will be able to access the articles without paying for it. Sometimes the University only subscribes to the hardcopy version of the journal, in which case, you will need to go to the library to obtain a copy.

At this point, it is very useful to use Reference Manager software to manage all the articles you review. The University subscribes to End Note which is an excellent programme. This allows you to save your references, and when writing up your proposal, and subsequently, your dissertation, it will insert your citation and create a reference list for you. The library manager at UKZN can advise you on when they run courses on such software.

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