How a literature review helps us do research!

This year, the GLOBE International Virtual Science Symposium (IVSS)’s topic is focused on Engineering Solutions for a Changing Climate. I believe it may be a bit overwhelming to think of such a big topic, wondering where to even start brainstorming solutions regarding our changing climate. But my colleague and friend Juan Felipe Restrepo just reminded me that when doing research, we don’t need to start from scratch! We can build on the knowledge that has been gathered by those who have studied a topic before us.

I happen to be extremely lucky when it comes to looking for people who know much more than me about our changing climate. I’m surrounded by climate scientists at the Goddard Institute for Space Studies! For example, I can ask Dr. Peteet about her research regarding climate change in wetlands; Dr. LeGrande will also be happy to discuss her research regarding how atmospheric rivers form; and I’m sure Dr. Christian Braneon will answer my questions regarding his research about the heat mitigation effects of green roofs. But what if you are not nearby climate scientists? Well, scientists, engineers, educators, and other professionals also teach us about their work through research papers they publish. A literature review can provide us a comprehensive look at the current state of research related to a given topic. In addition to help us understand a problem better, a literature review can also help us generate new ideas!

But how do we even go about performing a literature review? It’s important to know where to look for good and relevant sources of information. Juan Felipe and I talked about this. We thought it could be helpful to start developing a research toolbox, a series of resources students may use when working towards building their research projects for the IVSS or for other symposia. Therefore, Juan Felipe generously volunteered to put together this webinar about how to perform a literature review. Even better, Juan Felipe presented this webinar in English and in Spanish, and we are hoping to spark interest in our community to develop more resources in different languages that can help our GLOBE students around the world!

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