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Business Research Guide: BMAL 887/888

This page is designed to be used in conjunction with The Center for Entrepreneurship's curriculum.

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David Leffler
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Subjects: Business

Researching for an Academic Literature Review

For this class, you will need to conduct a scholarly literature review related to a leadership theory and/or practice. For your literature review, you should not limit your search to only those articles that affirm your perspective. Rather, you will want to find all relevant resources on the theory/practice, whether or not they align with your single perspective. To conduct this research, you will need to perform a variety of searches in the database called ABI Inform (linked below). Using appropriate search terms, you will be able to find the available literature within the parameters of the assignment. This database will allow you to filter according to year and publication type (e.g. peer-reviewed).

Let's look at an example to further explain the search strategy. Let's say you are conducting a review on transformational leadership theory. The broadest search will be a simple search with the term "transformational leadership theory." You would then use the filters on the left hand side of the search results page to narrow according to the last five years and only peer-reviewed sources (see these two filters below).

However, this search may end up being too broad. So, you will want to narrow further using additional terms. For example, if you want to find articles that focus on the strengths, weaknesses, criticisms, or analysis of the theory, then you can use those terms in the search query. One way to do this is to use boolean operators (ANDs, ORs, and NOTs) as well as truncation (using an asterisk to capture all endings of a term) to create the most efficient search. So, your more narrowed search in this example might use this search phrase or some combination therein: (transformational leadership theory) AND (critic* OR strength* OR weakness* OR analy*).

Please note that the research process here will involve some trial and error as you discover the terms that are used in the literature to capture your specific topic. You can modify your search based on what you are finding in the initial query.

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