Everyday there are hundreds of papers published worldwide in every single area of study. I am mostly interested in architecture and environmental psychology.

A question arises how to assure that we select relevant literature review? or how to assure the originality of research?

For example more recently I am conducting a research on primary school children's perception of an ideal school. I am analyzing children's' drawing. Even my primary analysis reveals statistically significant differences between girls and boys. There are some studies conducted on gender differences similarly.

So how to assure the originality of the research when there many papers written in this area and despite reading over 100 papers there might be those that we are not aware of?

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    One would argue that if a good faith effort searching for this effect doesn't yield results, your paper will bring new knowledge to the community, even if there was an obscure, older article covering it, but no one knows about it.
    – Davidmh
    Aug 13, 2016 at 11:52
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    And as always, your paper can always shine on its own by doing very rigorous analysis, providing insights, etc. even if the main result was reported elsewhere without your knowledge.
    – Davidmh
    Aug 13, 2016 at 11:54
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    @Davidmh, there is the definite risk that a novice does not know keywords, etc., so that what is "obscure" to them is well-known to experts, etc. It would be unfortunate to "reassure" people that a good-faith effort is sure to be adequate, etc. That is, a good-faith effort is beyond moral reproach, perhaps, but still does risk being incompetent from a professional viewpoint, for many different possible reasons. In particular, getting expert advice is surely indispensable (rather than only acting in good faith...) Aug 13, 2016 at 23:42
  • @paulgarrett true, but I think asking relevant experts falls inside a good faith effort.
    – Davidmh
    Aug 14, 2016 at 7:48
  • @Davidmh, I agree, it would make sense to suppose that a good-faith effort includes asking experts. However, from some decades of observing grad students and postdocs in the U.S., in math, apparently this is nearly uniformly not the case. Don't ask me why... Aug 14, 2016 at 12:43

1 Answer 1


It all accounts to got much effort you believe you put in to your work.

Doing a good review isn't at all easy. It involves a whole lot of work to

  • collect relevant studies
  • collate them to groups
  • assess originality
  • connect the dots
  • produce illustration
  • coherently present the information

If that isn't enough, getting permission from authors and publishers to reuse relevant figures is another hassle. To add on, it would be an ordeal to manage 100+ references without a reference management system like LaTeX/BibTeX.

The point is that as you go through this process, you'll notice that your skill would gradually improve over time. I'm actually going through this process at the time of writing this post. I came across a couple of double publication, extensively overlapped concepts, and inconclusive studies. These sort of items are the ones I filter out.

Hope this helps.

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    All the above assumes you're in possession of relevant keywords and such in the first place! And there is absolutely no guarantee that a novice will be, nor that the internet can help you if you cannot reach a certain thresh-hold. Expert advice is the only thing approximating a guarantee of not being completely foolish and overlooking things that all experts know about... but that use different words than a novice might guess. Aug 13, 2016 at 23:44
  • You're right about the keywords, @paulgarrett; it took me half a year to just figure out the keywords. It's part of collating the studies into groups. As time progresses you'll also find the urge to add more groups too.
    – Ébe Isaac
    Aug 14, 2016 at 3:50

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