UW Research

Conduct Literature Search

A search and analysis of the scientific literature relevant to the research question under consideration is essential to developing a solid research plan. Previous familiarity with the literature in the field is helpful, but a comprehensive and targeted review of the most relevant publications and information is usually necessary. All information from reliable sources should be considered, whether it is found in peer-reviewed scientific journal articles, presented at scientific conferences, or otherwise made available through such mechanisms as websites, databases or personal communications.


  • The Principal Investigator (PI), is responsible for determining the definitive research question or hypothesis, based on a comprehensive literature search.
  • Co-Investigators may participate in the literature search, according to their proposed roles in the research project.


  • Conduct a comprehensive review of the literature in the relevant and associated fields of study in preparation for formulating a preliminary research question or hypothesis.
  • Conduct an in-depth review of the literature most relevant to the preliminary research question or hypothesis to refine the research question or hypothesis.
  • Repeat this process, resulting in the statement of a definitive research question or hypothesis.
  • Consult the literature periodically to ensure that all relevant new information is available to the research project.

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