Evidence of a rigorous literature review is more important than the word count or the number of articles that undergo data analysis. Especially when writing for a peer-reviewed journal, it is essential to consider how to demonstrate research rigor in your literature review to persuade reviewers of its scholarly value.
Select field-specific journals
The most significant research relevant to your field focuses on a narrow set of journals similar in aims and scope. Consider who the most prominent scholars in your field are and determine which journals publish their research or have them as editors or reviewers. Journals tend to look favorably on systematic reviews that include articles they have published.
Incorporate recent research
Recently published studies have greater value in determining the gaps in the current state of research. Older research is likely to have encountered challenges and critiques that may render their findings outdated or refuted. What counts as recent differs by field; start by looking for research published within the last three years and gradually expand to older research when you need to collect more articles for your review.
Consider the quality of the research
Literature reviews are only as strong as the quality of the studies that the researcher collects. You can judge any particular study by many factors, including:
- the quality of the article's journal
- the article's research rigor
- the timeliness of the research
The critical point here is that you should consider more than just a study's findings or research outputs when including research in your literature review.
Narrow your research focus
Ideally, the articles you collect for your literature review have something in common, such as a research method or research context. For example, if you are conducting a literature review about teaching practices in high school contexts, it is best to narrow your literature search to studies focusing on high school. You should consider expanding your search to junior high school and university contexts only when there are not enough studies that match your focus.