Exploring Cutting-Edge Trends: Engineering Research Paper Topics

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Table of contents

  • 1 How to Choose the Best Engineering Topic for Your Research
  • 2.1 Genetic Engineering Research Paper Topics
  • 2.2 Nuclear Engineering Research Paper Topics
  • 2.3 Research Topics on Security Engineering
  • 2.4 Mining and Geological Engineering Research Paper Topics
  • 2.5 Mechanical Engineering Research Topics
  • 2.6 Materials Engineering Essay Topics
  • 2.7 Marine Engineering Research Paper Topics
  • 2.8 Industrial Engineering Research Paper Topics
  • 2.9 Environmental Engineering Research Paper Topics
  • 2.10 Electrical Engineering Research Topics
  • 2.11 Computer and Software Engineering Research Topic
  • 2.12 Civil Engineering Research Topics
  • 2.13 Biomedical Engineering Research Ideas
  • 2.14 Automobile Engineering Research Paper Topic
  • 2.15 Agricultural Engineering Research Topics
  • 2.16 Aerospace Engineering Research Paper Topics
  • 2.17 Electrical and Nanoengineering Research Topic
  • 2.18 Engineering STEM Research Topics
  • 2.19 Engineering Research Topics in Robotics and Automation
  • 2.20 Transportation Engineering Research Topics

Embarking on an engineering research paper marks the beginning of a quest for knowledge that could redefine established norms and innovate practices. It’s a thrilling dive into the depths of technical ingenuity and problem-solving. To commence, one must select a beacon—a topic that not only ignites curiosity but also holds the potential to contribute meaningfully to the field. Whether it’s unraveling the complexities of renewable energy systems or exploring the frontiers of nanotechnology, the chosen subject should challenge and inspire. In this realm, precision, relevance, and forward-thinking drive the spirit of inquiry as researchers forge paths that could shape the future of technology.

Selecting the perfect engineering research topics is fundamental in charting a course for breakthroughs and engaging conversations. The purpose of this guide is to help curious individuals find an engineering research topic that fits their interests and the field’s pulse, guaranteeing a journey full of deep learning and significant results.

How to Choose the Best Engineering Topic for Your Research

Choosing the best engineering research topic begins with identifying your areas of interest. Reflect on the subjects that excite you the most and the current issues facing the engineering world. Once you’ve pinpointed your interests, delve into the latest industry trends, advancements, and scholarly discussions. Conferences, journals, and industry publications are gold mines for the newest challenges and innovations that crave exploration.

Next, evaluate the feasibility of the topics on your list. Consider factors such as resource availability, time constraints, and the scope of potential research. Consult with peers and mentors to gauge the relevance and depth of your chosen topic. It’s also wise to factor in the potential for practical application and the contribution your research could make to the field.

Finally, aim for originality. A unique research topic not only stands out but also adds value to the engineering community. By merging your passion with a gap in existing research, you can craft a topic that is both personally rewarding and professionally commendable.

Best Current Research Topics for Engineering

Explore the forefront of innovation with the best current research topics for engineering, a thrilling showcase of groundbreaking ideas poised to redefine technological frontiers and spark transformative advancements in the field.

Genetic Engineering Research Paper Topics

Venture into the realm of genetic engineering, where the potential for innovation intersects with ethical considerations. These engineering research paper topics offer a unique lens into the intricate dance of DNA manipulation and its far-reaching implications.

  • CRISPR Cas-9 Precision and its Impact on Genome Editing Techniques
  • Gene Therapy Advances for Inherited Disorders
  • Synthetic Biology and the Construction of Artificial Life Forms
  • Ethical Boundaries in Human Genetic Enhancement
  • Genetic Engineering in Agriculture and Crop Resilience
  • The Role of Genetic Engineering in Combating Rare Diseases
  • Bioprinting Human Tissues for Transplantation and Testing
  • Gene Editing’s Potential in Extending Human Lifespan
  • Implications of Genetic Privacy in an Era of Genome Editing
  • Bioinformatics and the Future of Personalized Medicine in Genetic Engineering

Nuclear Engineering Research Paper Topics

Delving into nuclear engineering offers a glimpse into the powerhouse of energy generation and its safety challenges. The following engineering research topics unpack the complexities of nuclear energy and its role in a sustainable future.

  • Advancements in Nuclear Fusion Reactor Design
  • Mitigation Strategies for Nuclear Reactor Disasters
  • Radioactive Waste Management and Long-Term Containment Solutions
  • The Development of Thorium as an Alternative Nuclear Fuel
  • Innovations in Nuclear Reactor Safety and Accident Tolerance
  • Nuclear Energy’s Role in the Global Transition to Clean Power
  • Enhancing Radiation Shielding Techniques for Space Exploration
  • Proliferation Risks of Nuclear Materials and Technologies
  • Economic Analysis of Lifecycle Costs for Nuclear Power Plants
  • Public Perception and Acceptance of Nuclear Energy in the 21st Century

Research Topics on Security Engineering

Security engineering stands at the vanguard of protecting information and infrastructure in our increasingly digital world. These engineering topics to research delve into state-of-the-art defenses and the evolving landscape of threats.

  • Quantum Cryptography and the Future of Secure Communication
  • Biometric Security Systems and Privacy Implications
  • Artificial Intelligence in Cyber Threat Detection and Response
  • Blockchain Applications for Decentralized Security Architectures
  • Secure Software Development Life Cycle for Emerging Technologies
  • Internet of Things (IoT) Security in Smart City Implementations
  • Advanced Persistent Threats and Counteracting Network Security Measures
  • Social Engineering Attacks and Human-Centric Security Strategies
  • Forensic Methods for Detecting Insider Threats
  • Risk Management Frameworks for Cloud Computing Security

Mining and Geological Engineering Research Paper Topics

Mining and geological engineering form the bedrock of our quest for natural resources, balancing extraction techniques with environmental stewardship. Here are vital engineering topics to write about that address today’s challenges and future solutions.

  • Autonomous and Remote-Controlled Mining Machinery Innovations
  • Environmental Impact Assessments of Hydraulic Fracturing Practices
  • Geostatistical Analysis of Mineral Resource Estimation
  • Slope Stability and Landslide Prevention in Open-Pit Mines
  • The Application of Geospatial Technologies in Mineral Exploration
  • Mine Rehabilitation and Post-Mining Ecosystem Restoration
  • Advancements in Offshore Drilling Technology and Impact Mitigation
  • Earthquake Prediction Models and Mining Induced Seismicity
  • Rare Earth Element Extraction Techniques and Economic Viability
  • Subsidence Engineering and Mitigation in Underground Mining Operations

Mechanical Engineering Research Topics

Mechanical engineering is the cornerstone of innovation, driving forward advancements in technology and industry. These engineering topics for research paper explore the cutting-edge developments and challenges within the mechanical realm.

  • 3D Printing of Biodegradable Materials for Sustainable Manufacturing
  • Nanotechnology in Mechanical Engineering: Enhancing Material Properties
  • Robotics and Automation in Precision Assembly Lines
  • Energy Harvesting Techniques for Self-Powered Electronic Devices
  • Fluid Dynamics Analysis in Reducing Aerodynamic Drag for Vehicles
  • Wearable Technology Innovations for Human Performance Monitoring
  • Advanced Composite Materials for Aerospace Application Efficiency
  • Thermal Management Systems in Electric Vehicle Battery Packs
  • Vibration Analysis for Predictive Maintenance in Heavy Machinery
  • Bioinspired Design: Mimicking Nature for Mechanical Solutions

Materials Engineering Essay Topics

Materials engineering is at the forefront of technological progress, shaping the way we build the future with innovative substances and composites. These engineering essay topics delve into the synthesis, analysis, and application of materials that could revolutionize industries.

  • Graphene Integration in Electronics and Energy Storage Devices
  • Biodegradable Polymers in Sustainable Packaging Solutions
  • Self-healing Material Technologies and Their Long-term Durability
  • Advanced Ceramics for High-Temperature Structural Applications
  • Nanomaterials for Targeted Drug Delivery Systems
  • Smart Textiles in Wearable Technology and Their Functionalities
  • Metallic Glass Synthesis for Industrial Application
  • Corrosion Resistance Strategies in Marine Engineering Materials
  • High Entropy Alloys and Their Mechanical Properties
  • Photovoltaic Materials for Enhanced Solar Cell Efficiency

Marine Engineering Research Paper Topics

Marine engineering embodies the spirit of exploration and innovation, navigating the challenges of the sea with advanced technology and design. The following topics in engineering dive deep into the ocean’s mysteries and the engineering solutions that sustain life and commerce on the waves.

  • Wave Energy Conversion Systems and Coastal Power Generation
  • Hull Design Optimization for Fuel Efficiency in Cargo Ships
  • Ballast Water Treatment Technologies to Combat Marine Invasions
  • Underwater Acoustic Communication Systems for Submersible Vehicles
  • Corrosion Resistant Materials for Prolonged Marine Infrastructure Lifespan
  • Autonomous Marine Vehicles and Their Navigational Algorithms
  • Impact of Climate Change on Ship-Borne Disease Spread
  • Sustainable Fishing Techniques and Equipment Design
  • Arctic Drilling Equipment and Ice Management Strategies
  • Marine Robotics for Deep-Sea Exploration and Resource Extraction

Industrial Engineering Research Paper Topics

Industrial engineering is a nexus of productivity, efficiency, and innovation, integrating complex systems and processes. These interesting engineering topics dissect the intricacies of industry operations and the pursuit of technological advancements for systemic improvements.

  • Ergonomic Design in Manufacturing Workstations to Boost Efficiency
  • Machine Learning Applications for Supply Chain Optimization
  • System Dynamics Modeling for Predictive Production Planning
  • Green Manufacturing Practices and Circular Economy Integration
  • Human-robot Collaboration and Safety in the Workplace
  • Quality Control Enhancements through Statistical Process Control
  • Lean Manufacturing Techniques and Waste Reduction Strategies
  • Smart Factory Implementations in Industry 4.0
  • Simulation of Logistics Networks for Urban Congestion Alleviation
  • Cognitive Ergonomics in Industrial Systems Design

Environmental Engineering Research Paper Topics

Environmental engineering is a vital subset of civil engineering, dedicated to creating harmony between construction and the natural world. These topics focus on sustainable development and ecological preservation within the built environment.

  • Phytoremediation Techniques in Soil and Water Decontamination
  • Carbon Capture and Storage Solutions in Urban Planning
  • Impact of Green Roofs on Urban Microclimates
  • Sustainable Wastewater Treatment and Reuse Strategies
  • Air Quality Management and Pollution Control in Metropolises
  • Eco-friendly Concrete Alternatives in Civil Construction
  • Bioreactor Landfills and Methane Harvesting Technologies
  • Riverbank Filtration Systems for Potable Water Supplies
  • Noise Pollution Reduction in Highway Engineering
  • GIS Applications in Hazardous Waste Site Remediation

Electrical Engineering Research Topics

Electrical engineering propels countless innovations, from microelectronics to massive power grids. The following topics highlight the dynamic and essential developments reshaping the electrical landscape.

  • Wireless Power Transfer Systems for Electric Vehicle Charging
  • Organic Photovoltaic Cells for Improved Solar Energy Harvesting
  • Nano-electromechanical Systems in Medical Device Engineering
  • Energy Storage Solutions in High-Density Lithium-Ion Batteries
  • Smart Grid Technologies for Distributed Energy Resources Management
  • Electromagnetic Field Effects on Human Health
  • Machine Vision Algorithms for Automated Quality Inspection
  • Flexible Electronics for Wearable Technology Applications
  • High-frequency Trading Algorithms and Market Impact Analysis
  • Quantum Computing and Its Role in Cryptography

Computer and Software Engineering Research Topic

Computer and software engineering stands at the cutting edge of innovation, constantly evolving to meet the demands of a digital future. These software engineering research topics delve into the algorithms, systems, and applications driving progress in this ever-expanding field.

  • Agile Methodologies Impact on Software Development Lifecycle
  • Cybersecurity in Cloud Computing Environments
  • Application of Artificial Intelligence in Automated Code Generation
  • Blockchain Technology Beyond Cryptocurrency
  • Human-Computer Interaction and User Experience Optimization
  • Internet of Things Security Protocols for Smart Home Systems
  • Machine Learning Techniques in Predictive Software Analytics
  • Virtual Reality Integration in Software Testing Environments
  • Software Solutions for Big Data Management and Analysis
  • Ethical Implications of Autonomous Decision-making Systems

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Civil Engineering Research Topics

Civil engineering is a pillar of societal development, encompassing the design and construction of infrastructure that underpins our daily lives. The research topics in civil engineering listed below address the contemporary challenges and technological strides shaping the field’s future.

  • Seismic Retrofitting Techniques for Aging Infrastructure
  • Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems and Flood Risk Mitigation
  • Smart Materials for Self-repairing Concrete Structures
  • Advanced Geotechnical Methods for Landslide Prevention
  • The Role of Civil Engineering in Urban Heat Island Reduction
  • Lifecycle Assessment of Green Building Materials
  • Integration of Autonomous Vehicles into Urban Traffic Management
  • 3D Printing in Rapid Construction and Design Prototyping
  • Water Reclamation and Reuse in Megacities
  • Innovations in Bridge Engineering for Enhanced Longevity and Durability

Biomedical Engineering Research Ideas

Biomedical engineering merges the intricate world of medicine with the precision of engineering, opening new frontiers in healthcare. While these are not topics, they embody a similar spirit of technical innovation applied to biological systems.

  • Tissue Engineering Strategies for 3D-Printed Organs
  • Wearable Biosensors for Real-Time Health Monitoring
  • Nanorobots in Targeted Drug Delivery Systems
  • Neural Engineering for Brain-Machine Interface Development
  • Biocompatible Materials for Implantable Medical Devices
  • Advanced Prosthetics Controlled by Electromyographic Signals
  • Artificial Intelligence in Diagnostic Imaging Techniques
  • Biomimicry in Medical Device Design
  • Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Therapy Applications
  • Computational Modeling for Personalized Medicine Treatment Plans

Automobile Engineering Research Paper Topic

Automobile engineering is continuously evolving, driven by the quest for sustainability, efficiency, and cutting-edge technology. Although distinct from software engineering topics for research, these themes share a focus on innovation and design in the quest for advancement.

  • Electric Vehicle Battery Management Systems for Optimal Performance
  • Autonomous Vehicle Sensor Integration and Data Fusion
  • Hydrogen Fuel Cell Advancements for Zero-Emission Cars
  • Aerodynamic Design for Enhanced Fuel Efficiency in Commercial Vehicles
  • Advanced Driver-Assistance Systems and their Impact on Traffic Safety
  • Smart Materials for Lightweight and Durable Automotive Components
  • Integration of IoT in Vehicle-to-Vehicle Communication Systems
  • Predictive Maintenance in Automotive Engineering using Machine Learning
  • Noise, Vibration, and Harshness Reduction Techniques in Car Design
  • The Impact of Vehicle Electrification on Urban Planning and Infrastructure

Agricultural Engineering Research Topics

Agricultural engineering fuses the knowledge of engineering with agricultural practice to solve crucial challenges in food production and farming sustainability. While not inherently controversial engineering topics, these subjects often stir debate due to their significance in global food security and environmental impact.

  • Precision Farming Technologies to Maximize Crop Yield
  • Water Resource Management for Sustainable Irrigation Practices
  • Genetic Engineering of Crops for Climate Resilience
  • Renewable Energy Systems in Agriculture
  • Robotics and Automation in Precision Livestock Farming
  • Post-Harvest Technology for Reducing Food Loss
  • Soil Health Monitoring Techniques for Enhanced Nutrient Management
  • Agrochemicals Delivery Systems and Their Environmental Footprint
  • Controlled Environment Agriculture for Urban Farming Efficiency
  • Bioenergy Production from Agricultural Waste Management Systems

Aerospace Engineering Research Paper Topics

Aerospace engineering takes us beyond the confines of Earth, embracing the vastness of space with technologies that defy gravity. These topics, while distinct from genetic engineering research topics, are similarly ambitious, exploring the limits of human ingenuity and the potential for discovery beyond our atmosphere.

  • Materials Engineering for High-Stress Aerospace Applications
  • Computational Fluid Dynamics in Hypersonic Vehicle Design
  • Satellite Swarm Navigation Techniques for Space Exploration
  • Innovative Propulsion Systems for Deep Space Missions
  • Bioastronautics: Sustaining Life in Space Environments
  • Impact of Microgravity on Mechanical Systems Design
  • Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Aerodynamics for Mars Reconnaissance
  • Thermal Protection Systems in Re-entry Vehicle Engineering
  • Design Optimization of Spacecraft Life Support Systems
  • Advanced Rocketry and the Viability of Space Tourism

Electrical and Nanoengineering Research Topic

Electrical engineering is a dynamic field that encompasses the study and application of electricity and electronics, propelling countless modern innovations. These topics extend into the realm of topic, probing into the minutiae of materials and processes that power our electronic devices.

  • Nanoscale Semiconductor Devices for Next-Generation Computing
  • Organic Light-Emitting Diodes in Flexible Display Technology
  • Quantum Dot Solar Cells for Enhanced Photovoltaic Efficiency
  • Nanomaterials in High-Density Energy Storage Solutions
  • Nano-antennas for Improved Wireless Communication Systems
  • Magnetic Nanoparticles in Medical Imaging and Diagnostics
  • Nanotechnology in Electromagnetic Interference Shielding
  • Nanostructured Materials for Advanced Sensor Technologies
  • Nanofabrication Techniques for Superconducting Electronics
  • Energy Harvesting at the Nanoscale for Self-Powered Devices

Engineering STEM Research Topics

Engineering STEM is an ever-expanding field, pivotal to the advancements in how we connect and interact with technology. These engineering STEM research topics address the latest innovations and challenges in creating more efficient, robust, and sophisticated communication systems.

  • 5G Network Infrastructure and its Socioeconomic Impacts
  • Machine Learning Algorithms for Enhanced Signal Processing
  • Organic Transistors in Flexible Electronics
  • Wearable Communication Devices for Health Monitoring
  • Low Earth Orbit Satellite Constellations for Global Internet Coverage
  • Signal Encryption Techniques for Secure Communication Channels
  • Energy-Efficient Routing Protocols in Mobile Ad-hoc Networks
  • Integration of LiFi for Next-Generation Wireless Communication
  • Quantum Computing’s Role in Advancing Cryptography
  • The Evolution of Underwater Acoustic Sensor Networks

Engineering Research Topics in Robotics and Automation

Robotics and automation stand at the forefront of engineering, blending artificial intelligence with mechanical prowess to innovate how tasks are performed. These research topics delve into the transformative potential of robots and automated systems, from intricate surgeries to industrial assembly lines.

  • Swarm Robotics Coordination Algorithms for Disaster Relief Operations
  • Collaborative Robots and Human-Robot Interaction Safety Protocols
  • Adaptive Control Systems for Precision Agriculture Robotics
  • Augmented Reality in Enhancing Robotic Assembly Line Training
  • AI-Driven Predictive Maintenance in Industrial Automation
  • Soft Robotics Applications in Minimally Invasive Surgery
  • Development of Energy-Efficient Actuators for Sustainable Robotics
  • Machine Vision Systems for Quality Control in Manufacturing
  • Robotic Exoskeletons for Rehabilitation and Enhanced Mobility
  • Automation in Smart Grids for Optimized Energy Distribution

Transportation Engineering Research Topics

Transportation engineering is a key driver in the advancement of mobility solutions, focusing on the design, construction, and maintenance of efficient transport systems. These research topics investigate the development of safer, more sustainable, and technologically advanced transportation networks.

  • Impact of Autonomous Vehicles on Urban Traffic Flow
  • Eco-Friendly Pavement Materials and Their Lifecycle Assessment
  • Smart Traffic Signal Systems for Reduced Congestion
  • Electrification of Public Transit and Infrastructure Challenges
  • Pedestrian Flow Dynamics in Urban Planning
  • Bridge Health Monitoring Using IoT Sensors
  • High-Speed Rail Systems and Cross-Border Integration Challenges
  • Adaptive Cruise Control Systems in Vehicle Safety Enhancement
  • Drone Technology in Expedited Cargo Delivery
  • Multi-Modal Transportation Planning for Improved Accessibility

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  • How to Write a Literature Review | Guide, Examples, & Templates

How to Write a Literature Review | Guide, Examples, & Templates

Published on January 2, 2023 by Shona McCombes . Revised on September 11, 2023.

What is a literature review? A literature review is a survey of scholarly sources on a specific topic. It provides an overview of current knowledge, allowing you to identify relevant theories, methods, and gaps in the existing research that you can later apply to your paper, thesis, or dissertation topic .

There are five key steps to writing a literature review:

  • Search for relevant literature
  • Evaluate sources
  • Identify themes, debates, and gaps
  • Outline the structure
  • Write your literature review

A good literature review doesn’t just summarize sources—it analyzes, synthesizes , and critically evaluates to give a clear picture of the state of knowledge on the subject.

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Table of contents

What is the purpose of a literature review, examples of literature reviews, step 1 – search for relevant literature, step 2 – evaluate and select sources, step 3 – identify themes, debates, and gaps, step 4 – outline your literature review’s structure, step 5 – write your literature review, free lecture slides, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions, introduction.

  • Quick Run-through
  • Step 1 & 2

When you write a thesis , dissertation , or research paper , you will likely have to conduct a literature review to situate your research within existing knowledge. The literature review gives you a chance to:

  • Demonstrate your familiarity with the topic and its scholarly context
  • Develop a theoretical framework and methodology for your research
  • Position your work in relation to other researchers and theorists
  • Show how your research addresses a gap or contributes to a debate
  • Evaluate the current state of research and demonstrate your knowledge of the scholarly debates around your topic.

Writing literature reviews is a particularly important skill if you want to apply for graduate school or pursue a career in research. We’ve written a step-by-step guide that you can follow below.

Literature review guide

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Writing literature reviews can be quite challenging! A good starting point could be to look at some examples, depending on what kind of literature review you’d like to write.

  • Example literature review #1: “Why Do People Migrate? A Review of the Theoretical Literature” ( Theoretical literature review about the development of economic migration theory from the 1950s to today.)
  • Example literature review #2: “Literature review as a research methodology: An overview and guidelines” ( Methodological literature review about interdisciplinary knowledge acquisition and production.)
  • Example literature review #3: “The Use of Technology in English Language Learning: A Literature Review” ( Thematic literature review about the effects of technology on language acquisition.)
  • Example literature review #4: “Learners’ Listening Comprehension Difficulties in English Language Learning: A Literature Review” ( Chronological literature review about how the concept of listening skills has changed over time.)

You can also check out our templates with literature review examples and sample outlines at the links below.

Download Word doc Download Google doc

Before you begin searching for literature, you need a clearly defined topic .

If you are writing the literature review section of a dissertation or research paper, you will search for literature related to your research problem and questions .

Make a list of keywords

Start by creating a list of keywords related to your research question. Include each of the key concepts or variables you’re interested in, and list any synonyms and related terms. You can add to this list as you discover new keywords in the process of your literature search.

  • Social media, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, TikTok
  • Body image, self-perception, self-esteem, mental health
  • Generation Z, teenagers, adolescents, youth

Search for relevant sources

Use your keywords to begin searching for sources. Some useful databases to search for journals and articles include:

  • Your university’s library catalogue
  • Google Scholar
  • Project Muse (humanities and social sciences)
  • Medline (life sciences and biomedicine)
  • EconLit (economics)
  • Inspec (physics, engineering and computer science)

You can also use boolean operators to help narrow down your search.

Make sure to read the abstract to find out whether an article is relevant to your question. When you find a useful book or article, you can check the bibliography to find other relevant sources.

You likely won’t be able to read absolutely everything that has been written on your topic, so it will be necessary to evaluate which sources are most relevant to your research question.

For each publication, ask yourself:

  • What question or problem is the author addressing?
  • What are the key concepts and how are they defined?
  • What are the key theories, models, and methods?
  • Does the research use established frameworks or take an innovative approach?
  • What are the results and conclusions of the study?
  • How does the publication relate to other literature in the field? Does it confirm, add to, or challenge established knowledge?
  • What are the strengths and weaknesses of the research?

Make sure the sources you use are credible , and make sure you read any landmark studies and major theories in your field of research.

You can use our template to summarize and evaluate sources you’re thinking about using. Click on either button below to download.

Take notes and cite your sources

As you read, you should also begin the writing process. Take notes that you can later incorporate into the text of your literature review.

It is important to keep track of your sources with citations to avoid plagiarism . It can be helpful to make an annotated bibliography , where you compile full citation information and write a paragraph of summary and analysis for each source. This helps you remember what you read and saves time later in the process.

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To begin organizing your literature review’s argument and structure, be sure you understand the connections and relationships between the sources you’ve read. Based on your reading and notes, you can look for:

  • Trends and patterns (in theory, method or results): do certain approaches become more or less popular over time?
  • Themes: what questions or concepts recur across the literature?
  • Debates, conflicts and contradictions: where do sources disagree?
  • Pivotal publications: are there any influential theories or studies that changed the direction of the field?
  • Gaps: what is missing from the literature? Are there weaknesses that need to be addressed?

This step will help you work out the structure of your literature review and (if applicable) show how your own research will contribute to existing knowledge.

  • Most research has focused on young women.
  • There is an increasing interest in the visual aspects of social media.
  • But there is still a lack of robust research on highly visual platforms like Instagram and Snapchat—this is a gap that you could address in your own research.

There are various approaches to organizing the body of a literature review. Depending on the length of your literature review, you can combine several of these strategies (for example, your overall structure might be thematic, but each theme is discussed chronologically).

Chronological

The simplest approach is to trace the development of the topic over time. However, if you choose this strategy, be careful to avoid simply listing and summarizing sources in order.

Try to analyze patterns, turning points and key debates that have shaped the direction of the field. Give your interpretation of how and why certain developments occurred.

If you have found some recurring central themes, you can organize your literature review into subsections that address different aspects of the topic.

For example, if you are reviewing literature about inequalities in migrant health outcomes, key themes might include healthcare policy, language barriers, cultural attitudes, legal status, and economic access.

Methodological

If you draw your sources from different disciplines or fields that use a variety of research methods , you might want to compare the results and conclusions that emerge from different approaches. For example:

  • Look at what results have emerged in qualitative versus quantitative research
  • Discuss how the topic has been approached by empirical versus theoretical scholarship
  • Divide the literature into sociological, historical, and cultural sources

Theoretical

A literature review is often the foundation for a theoretical framework . You can use it to discuss various theories, models, and definitions of key concepts.

You might argue for the relevance of a specific theoretical approach, or combine various theoretical concepts to create a framework for your research.

Like any other academic text , your literature review should have an introduction , a main body, and a conclusion . What you include in each depends on the objective of your literature review.

The introduction should clearly establish the focus and purpose of the literature review.

Depending on the length of your literature review, you might want to divide the body into subsections. You can use a subheading for each theme, time period, or methodological approach.

As you write, you can follow these tips:

  • Summarize and synthesize: give an overview of the main points of each source and combine them into a coherent whole
  • Analyze and interpret: don’t just paraphrase other researchers — add your own interpretations where possible, discussing the significance of findings in relation to the literature as a whole
  • Critically evaluate: mention the strengths and weaknesses of your sources
  • Write in well-structured paragraphs: use transition words and topic sentences to draw connections, comparisons and contrasts

In the conclusion, you should summarize the key findings you have taken from the literature and emphasize their significance.

When you’ve finished writing and revising your literature review, don’t forget to proofread thoroughly before submitting. Not a language expert? Check out Scribbr’s professional proofreading services !

This article has been adapted into lecture slides that you can use to teach your students about writing a literature review.

Scribbr slides are free to use, customize, and distribute for educational purposes.

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If you want to know more about the research process , methodology , research bias , or statistics , make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples.

  • Sampling methods
  • Simple random sampling
  • Stratified sampling
  • Cluster sampling
  • Likert scales
  • Reproducibility

 Statistics

  • Null hypothesis
  • Statistical power
  • Probability distribution
  • Effect size
  • Poisson distribution

Research bias

  • Optimism bias
  • Cognitive bias
  • Implicit bias
  • Hawthorne effect
  • Anchoring bias
  • Explicit bias

A literature review is a survey of scholarly sources (such as books, journal articles, and theses) related to a specific topic or research question .

It is often written as part of a thesis, dissertation , or research paper , in order to situate your work in relation to existing knowledge.

There are several reasons to conduct a literature review at the beginning of a research project:

  • To familiarize yourself with the current state of knowledge on your topic
  • To ensure that you’re not just repeating what others have already done
  • To identify gaps in knowledge and unresolved problems that your research can address
  • To develop your theoretical framework and methodology
  • To provide an overview of the key findings and debates on the topic

Writing the literature review shows your reader how your work relates to existing research and what new insights it will contribute.

The literature review usually comes near the beginning of your thesis or dissertation . After the introduction , it grounds your research in a scholarly field and leads directly to your theoretical framework or methodology .

A literature review is a survey of credible sources on a topic, often used in dissertations , theses, and research papers . Literature reviews give an overview of knowledge on a subject, helping you identify relevant theories and methods, as well as gaps in existing research. Literature reviews are set up similarly to other  academic texts , with an introduction , a main body, and a conclusion .

An  annotated bibliography is a list of  source references that has a short description (called an annotation ) for each of the sources. It is often assigned as part of the research process for a  paper .  

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"Literature review," "systematic literature review," "integrative literature review" -- these are terms used in different disciplines for basically the same thing -- a rigorous examination of the scholarly literature about a topic (at different levels of rigor, and with some different emphases).  

1. Our library's guide to Writing a Literature Review

2. Other helpful sites

  • Writing Center at UNC (Chapel Hill) -- A very good guide about lit reviews and how to write them
  • Literature Review: Synthesizing Multiple Sources (LSU, June 2011 but good; PDF) -- Planning, writing, and tips for revising your paper

3. Welch Library's list of the types of expert reviews

Doing a good job of organizing your information makes writing about it a lot easier.

You can organize your sources using a citation manager, such as refworks , or use a matrix (if you only have a few references):.

  • Use Google Sheets, Word, Excel, or whatever you prefer to create a table
  • The column headings should include the citation information, and the main points that you want to track, as shown

literature review topics in engineering

Synthesizing your information is not just summarizing it. Here are processes and examples about how to combine your sources into a good piece of writing:

  • Purdue OWL's Synthesizing Sources
  • Synthesizing Sources (California State University, Northridge)

Annotated Bibliography  

An "annotation" is a note or comment. An "annotated bibliography" is a "list of citations to books, articles, and [other items]. Each citation is followed by a brief...descriptive and evaluative paragraph, [whose purpose is] to inform the reader of the relevance, accuracy, and quality of the sources cited."*

  • Sage Research Methods (database) --> Empirical Research and Writing (ebook) -- Chapter 3: Doing Pre-research  
  • Purdue's OWL (Online Writing Lab) includes definitions and samples of annotations  
  • Cornell's guide * to writing annotated bibliographies  

* Thank you to Olin Library Reference, Research & Learning Services, Cornell University Library, Ithaca, NY, USA https://guides.library.cornell.edu/annotatedbibliography

What does "peer-reviewed" mean?

  • If an article has been peer-reviewed before being published, it means that the article has been read by other people in the same field of study ("peers").
  • The author's reviewers have commented on the article, not only noting typos and possible errors, but also giving a judgment about whether or not the article should be published by the journal to which it was submitted.

How do I find "peer-reviewed" materials?

  • Most of the the research articles in scholarly journals are peer-reviewed.
  • Many databases allow you to check a box that says "peer-reviewed," or to see which results in your list of results are from peer-reviewed sources. Some of the databases that provide this are Academic Search Ultimate, CINAHL, PsycINFO, and Sociological Abstracts.

literature review topics in engineering

What kinds of materials are *not* peer-reviewed?

  • open web pages
  • most newspapers, newsletters, and news items in journals
  • letters to the editor
  • press releases
  • columns and blogs
  • book reviews
  • anything in a popular magazine (e.g., Time, Newsweek, Glamour, Men's Health)

If a piece of information wasn't peer-reviewed, does that mean that I can't trust it at all?

No; sometimes you can. For example, the preprints submitted to well-known sites such as  arXiv  (mainly covering physics) and  CiteSeerX (mainly covering computer science) are probably trustworthy, as are the databases and web pages produced by entities such as the National Library of Medicine, the Smithsonian Institution, and the American Cancer Society.

Is this paper peer-reviewed? Ulrichsweb will tell you.

1) On the library home page , choose "Articles and Databases" --> "Databases" --> Ulrichsweb

2) Put in the title of the JOURNAL (not the article), in quotation marks so all the words are next to each other

literature review topics in engineering

3) Mouse over the black icon, and you'll see that it means "refereed" (which means peer-reviewed, because it's been looked at by referees or reviewers). This journal is not peer-reviewed, because none of the formats have a black icon next to it:

literature review topics in engineering

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Embark on an informative journey exploring the intricacies of an Engineering Literature Review, a critical component in the realm of engineering studies. This comprehensive guide is designed to aid in your understanding of the function and importance it holds in the discourse of Engineering. Throughout this document, you'll uncover the essential elements that make up the structure of a robust literature review, with practical examples taken from Civil and Mechanical Engineering. You'll also gain beneficial tips on crafting a top-notch review and discover how to sidestep common challenges. Lastly, a section dedicated to further reading will reinforce your knowledge and enhance your skills, making you proficient in delivering exceptional Engineering Literature Reviews.

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Understanding Engineering Literature Review: A Comprehensive Guide

An Engineering Literature Review is a detailed examination and analysis of scholarly articles, books, and other resources relevant to a specific aspect of engineering. It is not simply a summary, but a careful evaluation of the literature, synthesizing the available material and identifying trends, theories, practices, gaps in research, and areas of controversy.

Unpacking the Meaning of Engineering Literature Review

  • Define the scope of your research
  • Determine the current state of your field of study
  • Identify any gaps in the existing literature
  • Relate your study to the existing research

For example, if you're conducting a literature review on the latest advancements in green energy technology, you would search through various scholarly databases to find articles, books and other resources that discuss this topic. After reading and analyzing these sources, you would summarize your findings, highlighting the main theories, ongoing debates, and gaps in the knowledge about green energy technology.

Significance of Literature Review in Engineering Studies

Deep dive: Doing a literature review also acquaints you with research methodologies, techniques and tools in your field of study. Understanding how past studies were conducted - and their strengths and weaknesses - will help you plan your study more effectively.

How to Construct an Effective Engineering Literature Review Structure

Fundamental elements of an engineering literature review.

  • Introduction : The initial part of your Literature Review should present your research topic, clarify its value, and show how exactly the review will build upon the existing compilation of scholarly works. Your readers should grasp the essence, significance, and the aim of your review from the introduction.
  • Body : This is where you explore various resources, analyse them critically, and present the crucial points collected in a structured manner. The body could be arranged based on themes, trends, or chronologically, depending on the nature of your research.
  • Conclusion : The conclusion should summarise the main observations from your compiled resources. It provides an avenue to underscore the gap in existing research, which your study intends to fill.

The process is not unlike solving an engineering problem where multiple components need to work together for an effective solution. Just as you wouldn't simply present an unordered list of all the components and their individual functionalities, in your literature review too, merely summarising the articles isn't enough. They have to be connected and analysed for the readers to understand the full picture.

Steps to Structure a Solid Engineering Literature Review

  • Define your research question : Every Literature Review starts by defining a clear, concise, and relevant research question.

In the context of Engineering, a research question will focus on a specific problem, phenomenon, or component within the broader engineering landscape. It could be related to the efficiency of an existing design, exploring the impact of a particular process, or the development of a new technology.

  • Search and Select Literature : Once you have established your research question, identify and gather resources related to your research topic. This might involve searching databases, examining journals, or going through conference papers. Always ensure the sources are reliable and up-to-date.
  • Evaluate Sources : After your compilation, critically evaluate each work for its relevance, reliability, accuracy, and contribution to your research.
  • Plan Structure : Plan an outline for your review regarding how the body will be arranged. This structure could be thematic, based on trends, chronologically arranged, or in any other way that best suits your research.
  • Write your Review : With the plan in place and resources in hand, write your review, ensuring that each section (Introduction, Body, Conclusion) is well-crafted to encapsulate your entire research.

Practical Exploration of Engineering Literature Review Examples

Engineering literature review example: civil engineering, engineering literature review example: mechanical engineering, introduction to crafting an exceptional engineering literature review, essential tips for writing an engineering literature review.

  • Focus on Relevance : Prioritise your reading and inclusion based on the relevance to your research question. Every article or book that is part of your review should contribute meaningfully to setting the context, highlighting the gap, or providing evidence for your arguments.
  • Be Critical : A literature review isn't just a summarisation - it's essentially an evaluation. Critique the methodology, question the interpretations, explore the inconsistencies, and assimilate the ideas. But remember, criticism doesn't mean just pointing out flaws, it also involves recognising the strengths and unique contributions.
  • Thoroughly Cite Sources : Remember that your literature review is based on the work of others, so always credit the original sources using appropriate citation styles.
  • Stay Coherent : Your review should read as a unified document, and not a compilation of summarised articles. Each point or section should logically connect to the next. Often, using a table can help in structuring your thoughts and presenting the comparisons in a more reader-friendly form:

Challenges to Avoid When Conducting an Engineering Literature Review

  • Not Critically Evaluating Sources : It's necessary to critically evaluate each source, and not just accept the content at face value. Does the article substantiate its claims with empirical evidence? Is the methodology suitable?
  • Overlooking Relevant Research : Staying within the comforting walls of what we know and believe often results in confirmation bias. Even if some studies contradict your expectations or assumptions, if they are relevant, they need to be included.
  • Lack of Organisation : A literature review can easily become overwhelming if adequate organisation isn't maintained. Schedule regular times for studying, organise your notes meticulously, and stay on top of your bibliography. Use LaTeX to maintain consistency. For instance, for organising your formulas, LaTeX's align environment can be much cleaner than inline math mode:
  • Failing to Update Review : Remember, a literature review needs to be a living document, especially for lengthy research projects like a dissertation. New research papers relevant to your review can be published anytime, and it's essential to update your review to reflect such changes.

Advancing Your Knowledge: Further Reading on Engineering Literature Reviews

Revisiting crucial engineering literature review tips and examples.

  • Define Your Scope : Understand the breadth of your research question. Knowing this helps in identifying relevant literature, contributing to your research while keeping it confined within manageable limits.
  • Analyse, don't Summarise : Your literature review should demonstrate your deep understanding of the topic. It should pick apart and critique the chosen papers, not just summarise their abstracts. Your comprehension of the methodologies used, the robustness of their findings and their relevance to your study should shine through.
  • Think Synthetically : Good literature reviews don't just dissect each source individually, they also synthesise them together, drawing connections between the findings and discussions of various papers. Considering your review like patchwork, each 'patch' or source should interlace with the others, providing a unified narrative.

Next Steps: Enhancing Your Skills in Writing Engineering Literature Reviews

  • Quality over Quantity : Ensure that every source you include adds value to your review in its own unique way. Avoid unnecessary padding with irrelevant or weak sources.
  • Stay Objective : A literature review isn't the place to let personal bias take the reins. Keep your review objective, substantiated by evidence, and let the literature guide your narrative.
  • Application Coding Language : In Engineering Literature Reviews, you might encounter coding snippets, which you need to comprehend and explain. For instance, this is a Python code snippet that calculates force using Newton's second law:

Engineering Literature Review - Key takeaways

  • Engineering Literature Review forms the foundation for developing innovative solutions and advancements in existing technologies. It involves critical thinking, careful reading, analysis, and synthesis of information.
  • The key elements of an Engineering Literature Review include an introduction, body, and conclusion. The introduction presents the research topic, its significance, and how the review will build upon existing literature. The body involves exploring various resources, their critical analysis, and presenting crucial points in a structured manner. The conclusion summarizes the main observations from the resources, and highlights the gap in existing research.
  • Structuring an Engineering Literature Review involves defining a clear research question, searching and selecting relevant literature, evaluating these sources critically, planning the structure of the review, and writing the review with a well-crafted introduction, body, and conclusion.
  • Examples of Engineering Literature Reviews in Civil and Mechanical engineering may focus on advancements in sustainable building material, and innovations in biomedical devices respectively. They contain detailed explorations of scholarly articles and journals, critical analysis and comparison of studies, and a summary of the main findings with a highlight on areas requiring further research.
  • Writing an Engineering Literature Review requires focus on relevance, critical evaluation of sources, thorough citation of sources, and coherent writing. Challenges to avoid include not critically evaluating sources, overlooking relevant research, and lack of organisation.

Frequently Asked Questions about Engineering Literature Review

--> how can one write a literature review in engineering, --> how much of an engineering thesis should be dedicated to a literature review, --> how should one start an engineering literature review, --> what is a literature review for civil engineering in uk english, --> what is an engineering literature review about, test your knowledge with multiple choice flashcards.

What is an Engineering Literature Review?

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An Engineering Literature Review is a detailed examination and analysis of scholarly articles, books, and other resources relevant to a specific aspect of engineering. It synthesizes the available material and identifies trends, theories, practices, and gaps in research.

The objectives are to define the scope of your research, determine the current state of your field of study, identify any gaps in the existing literature, and relate your study to the existing research.

It develops critical thinking skills, acts as a knowledge repository, provides a foundation for new research, and acquaints you with research methodologies, techniques, and tools in your field of study.

What are the fundamental elements of an Engineering Literature Review?

An Engineering Literature Review contains an Introduction, Body, and Conclusion. The Introduction presents the research topic, the Body explores various resources and analyses them, and the Conclusion summarizes the main observations.

What is the process of crafting an effective Engineering Literature Review?

It involves defining a research question, searching and selecting literature, evaluating sources, planning the structure, and writing the review with well-crafted sections.

What is the significance of the structure in an Engineering Literature Review?

The structure of a Literature Review offers a logical path for your arguments, helps to maintain consistency and coherence in your review, and promotes better comprehension for your audience.

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Engineering -- Literature Reviews: Getting Started

  • Types of literature review
  • Developing a research question
  • Why is a literature Review Important?
  • Developing your search strategy
  • Finding Information
  • Citing your sources

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What is a Literature Review?

A literature review is a study of existing published information on a specific topic. Literature reviews:

  • identify key information relevant to a topic
  • assess the status or quality of existing research
  • critically examine support for alternative theories or arguments
  • evaluate research methods used in previous studies.

A good literature review will consist of a summary of key sources, and is analytical and synthesizes information. Usually a literature review is organized, not however a chronological description of discoveries in your field, and explains how your research will address gaps in existing literature on a particular topic.

Doing a literature review. (2010). In Thomas, D. R., & Hodges, I. D. Designing and managing your research project: Core skills for social and health research (pp. 105-130). London: SAGE Publications Ltd. doi: 10.4135/9781446289044

Steps involved in taking a literature review

literature review topics in engineering

Machi, L. A., & McEvoy, B. T. (2012). The literature review: Six steps to success (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, Calif: Corwin Press.

Steps to writing a review

  • Steps to writing a literature review This handy Infographic from Emerald publishing provides an overview to the various steps involved in writing a literature review.

Writing a literature review

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  • Last Updated: Aug 3, 2023 2:23 PM
  • URL: https://libguides.uvic.ca/engineering_literature_reviews

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What is Literature Review?

What is a literature review.

A literature review is a study of existing published information on a specific topic. Literature reviews:

  • identify key information relevant to a topic
  • assess the status or quality of existing research
  • critically examine support for alternative theories or arguments
  • evaluate research methods used in previous studies.

A good literature review will consist of a summary of key sources, and is analytical and synthesizes information. Usually a literature review is organized, not however a chronological description of discoveries in your field, and explains how your research will address gaps in existing literature on a particular topic.

Doing a literature review. (2010). In Thomas, D. R., & Hodges, I. D.  Designing and managing your research project: Core skills for social and health research  (pp. 105-130). London: SAGE Publications Ltd. doi: 10.4135/9781446289044

The Elements of a Literature Review:

An overview of the subject, issue or theory under consideration, along with the objectives of the literature review

Division of works under review into categories (e.g. those in support of a particular position, those against, and those offering alternative theses entirely)

Explanation of how each work is similar to and how it varies from the others

Conclusions as to which pieces are best considered in their argument, and make the greatest contribution to the understanding and development of their area of research

Steps for Starting Your Literature Review:

1. Choose a topic. Define your research question.

2. Decide on the scope of your review.

  • How many technical studies do you need to look at?
  • How comprehensive should it be?
  • How many years should it cover? 

3. Select the databases you will use to conduct your searches.

4. Conduct your searches and find the literature. 

  • Review the abstracts of technical studies carefully; you could also look at the conclusion of the technical study. This will save you time. 
  • Write down the searches you conduct in each database so that you may duplicate them if you need to later.You could use our RefWorks Citation Manager or Mendeley to keep yourself organized. (Please see the 'Cite Your Sources' page for tutorials.)
  • Use the bibliographies and references of technical studies you find to locate others.

5. Review the literature.

Writing a Literature Review

Our writer's center has a great research guide for steps on how to write a literature review:  writing the literature review.

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Literature Reviews in Engineering

What is a literature review.

"A literature review is an account of what has been published on a topic by accredited scholars and researchers. Occasionally you will be asked to write one as a separate assignment ... but more often it is part of the introduction to an essay, research report, or thesis. In writing the literature review, your purpose is to convey to your reader what knowledge and ideas have been established on a topic, and what their strengths and weaknesses are. As a piece of writing, the literature review must be defined by a guiding concept (e.g., your research objective, the problem or issue you are discussing, or your argumentative thesis). It is not just a descriptive list of the material available, or a set of summaries."

--Written by Dena Taylor, Health Sciences Writing Centre and available at  http://www.writing.utoronto.ca/advice/specific-types-of-writing/literature-review  (Accessed August 27th, 2019)

What is the purpose of a literature review?

Not to be confused with a book review, a  literature review  surveys scholarly articles, books and other sources (e.g. dissertations, conference proceedings, reports) relevant to a particular issue, area of research, or theory.  Literature reviews provide a description, summary, and critical evaluation of each work. The purpose is to offer an overview of and background on significant literature published on a topic, as well as your own critical thinking on how these works comprise this background, and what questions remain unaddressed by the existing literature.  A literature review's purpose is to:

Place each work in the context of its contribution

Describe the relationship of each work to others under consideration

Identify new ways to interpret and shed light on any gaps in previous research

Resolve conflicts amongst seemingly contradictory previous studies

Identify areas of prior scholarship to prevent duplication of effort (or retest previous effort to confirm or dispute it)

Point the way forward for further research

Place one's original work in the context of existing literature

The Literature Review Process:

Writing a literature review is a non-linear process. You may decide to revise your research question, find more resources and discard resources you've already found, change the way you want to structure your literature review, or how you want to address theories and ideas. Also, as you find resources on your topic, you will find that what you're writing is part of a larger conversation. There are already leading theories and a history on the topic you're pursuing and leaders who are already publishing their ideas. You'll become part of that conversation.

  • Choose a topic to explore and develop a research question to focus your research. You may revise this as you go.
  • Research and collect information from a variety of sources - books, journal articles, patents, conference proceedings, theses and dissertations, etc.
  • Make note of those who are leading the conversation and the main theories in this field of research.
  • Make a brief note for each source of information. How do your sources support or contradict your theories?
  • Keep track of citations. You may want to use a citation manager such as EndNote or Zotero.
  • Organize your thoughts. What do you want to say and how do you want to say it?
  • Read sources more completely that fit within the scope of your research question.
  • Write, revise, proof-read, and add a bibliography.

Elements of a literature review:

An overview of the subject, issue or theory under consideration, along with the objectives of the literature review

Division of works under review into categories (e.g. those in support of a particular position, those against, and those offering alternative theses entirely)

Explanation of how each work is similar to and how it varies from the others

Conclusions as to which pieces are best considered in their argument, and make the greatest contribution to the understanding and development of their area of research  

The literature review does not present new  primary  scholarship.  That comes in the section of your research that describes your experimentation (see the Research Process tab under Getting Started With Research).

  • Literature Reviews: An Overview for Graduate Students Created by the North Caroline State University Libraries
  • The Literature Review: A Few Tips on Conducting It Written by Dena Taylor, Health Sciences Writing Centre, University of Toronto
  • Tips & Tools on Literature Reviews Created by The Writing Center at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
  • "Learn How" from University of Wisconsin Clear definitions for each section of the lit review

What is a Literature Review and Why is it important?

A literature review not only summarizes the knowledge of a particular area or field of study, it also evaluates what has been done, what still needs to be done and why all of this is important to the subject.  , the stand-alone literature review:.

When a literature review stands alone, it is reviewing what is known about the topic, analyzed for trends, controversial issues, and what still needs to be studied to better understand the topic at hand. A stand-alone literature review can be as short as a few pages or may be more extensive with long bibliographies for in-depth reviews. 

  • Three-dimensional display technologies for anatomical education: a literature review
  • A systematic literature review of US engineering ethics interventions
  • From Bitcoin to cybersecurity: A comparative study of blockchain application and security issues

The Literature Review as a Section:

Literature reviews can be used as part of dissertations, theses, research reports, and scholarly journal articles. They generally discuss what has been done before and how the research being introduced in this document fills a gap in the field's knowledge and why it is an important.  

  • Ghost driver: A field study investigating the interaction between pedestrians and driverless vehicles
  • An empirical study of wearable technology acceptance in healthcare

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Annotated bibliographies

  • What is an annotated bibliography?
  • Writing an annotated bibliography
  • Example annotations

WHAT IS AN ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY?

An annotated bibliography is a list of citations to books, articles, and documents. Each citation is followed by a brief (usually about 150 words) descriptive and evaluative paragraph, the annotation. The purpose of the annotation is to inform the reader of the relevance, accuracy, and quality of the sources cited.

ANNOTATIONS VS. ABSTRACTS

Abstracts are the purely descriptive summaries often found at the beginning of scholarly journal articles or in periodical indexes. Annotations are descriptive and critical; they may describe the author's point of view, authority, or clarity and appropriateness of expression.

Permission to use all content in the tabs on this page granted from: Olin Library Reference Research & Learning Services Cornell University Library Ithaca, NY, USA

This guide shared under a Creative Commons Commons Deed, version 2.0 regarding attribution, noncommercial use, and "Share Alike" reuse.

WRITING AN ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY

Creating an annotated bibliography calls for the application of a variety of intellectual skills: concise exposition, succinct analysis, and informed library research.

  • First, locate and record citations to books, periodicals, and documents that may contain useful information and ideas on your topic. Briefly examine and review the actual items. Then choose those works that provide a variety of perspectives on your topic.
  • Cite the book, article, or document using the appropriate style -- here is a page explaining and offering examples of the different major citation styles.
  • Write a concise annotation that summarizes the central theme and scope of the book or article. Include one or more sentences that (a) evaluate the authority or background of the author, (b) comment on the intended audience, (c) compare or contrast this work with another you have cited, or (d) explain how this work illuminates your bibliography topic.

SAMPLE ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY ENTRY FOR A JOURNAL ARTICLE

The following example uses APA style ( Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association , 6th edition, 2010)  for the journal citation:

Waite, L. J., Goldschneider, F. K., & Witsberger, C. (1986). Nonfamily living and the erosion of traditional family orientations among young adults.  American Sociological Review,   51 , 541-554. The authors, researchers at the Rand Corporation and Brown University, use data from the National Longitudinal Surveys of Young Women and Young Men to test their hypothesis that nonfamily living by young adults alters their attitudes, values, plans, and expectations, moving them away from their belief in traditional sex roles. They find their hypothesis strongly supported in young females, while the effects were fewer in studies of young males. Increasing the time away from parents before marrying increased individualism, self-sufficiency, and changes in attitudes about families. In contrast, an earlier study by Williams cited below shows no significant gender differences in sex role attitudes as a result of nonfamily living.

This example uses MLA style ( MLA Handbook , 8th edition, 2016)  for the journal citation:

Waite, Linda J., et al. "Nonfamily Living and the Erosion of Traditional Family Orientations Among Young Adults."  American Sociological Review,  vol. 51, no. 4, 1986, pp. 541-554. The authors, researchers at the Rand Corporation and Brown University, use data from the National Longitudinal Surveys of Young Women and Young Men to test their hypothesis that nonfamily living by young adults alters their attitudes, values, plans, and expectations, moving them away from their belief in traditional sex roles. They find their hypothesis strongly supported in young females, while the effects were fewer in studies of young males. Increasing the time away from parents before marrying increased individualism, self-sufficiency, and changes in attitudes about families. In contrast, an earlier study by Williams cited below shows no significant gender differences in sex role attitudes as a result of nonfamily living.

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Engineering: The Literature Review Process

  • How to Use This Guide
  • 1. What is a Literature Review?
  • 2. Precision vs Retrieval
  • 3. Equip Your Tool Box
  • 4. What to look for
  • 5. Where to Look for it
  • 6. How to Look for it
  • 7. Keeping Current
  • 8. Reading Tips

Writing Tips

Further readings.

  • 10. Checklist

Your review should consists of 3 sections: 

  • The Introduction in which you tell the reader what topic you are covering and why.    
  • Topic or Issue
  • Theory  
  • The Summary in which you draw conclusions about the significant events, discoveries, flaws and work that still needs to be done.  

Highly Recommended Viewing ...

Get Lit: The Literature Review Candace Schaefer, Associate Director of the University Writing Center at Texas A&M Although the speaker is addressing a class consisting of graduate students from all subject areas, the advice applies to engineering.    You can skip the first part of this video but do view these sections: 

  • 15m 20s What are you looking for when you are reading the literature
  • 18m 10s How to organize your review 
  • 23m 47s: Placing the literature within the scholarly debate 
  • 29m 30s: Attribution, citation, quoting
  • 34m 10s: Connecting ideas   
  • 38m 30s: Positioning your research in the scholarly debate

The readings and videos listed below also give advice on writing the review. 

  • The Writer's Handbook: Learn How to Write a Review of the Literature Created by The Writing Center at the University of Wisconsin - Madison.  
  • Literature Reviews The role and structure of a literature review.  Strategies for writing a literature Review. From University of Toronto, Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering.   
  • Literature Review  UNC Writing Center

Tutorials ​    

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  • KSL Ask A Librarian Information on how to get help by email, phone, & chat.

Reminder: Online Access

  • Library resources require going through CWRU Single Sign-On.
  • The best method is to follow links from the library website.
  • When logged in and a browser window is not closed, access should continue from resource to resource.
  • Remember to close your browser when done.
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Get the big picture

As you retrieve sources, skim the article to get the “big picture” to ascertain its relevancy to your topic. You don’t have to understand every single idea in a text the first time you read it.

DON'T FORGET TO SAVE RETRIEVED SOURCES!

  • Start with venue / title / author list / structure of the article

Where was the paper published? What kind of journal it is? Is the journal peer-reviewed? Can you tell what the paper is about? Who are the authors? What are their credentials? Where are they from? What are the sections of the article? Are these clearly defined?

  • Can you figure out the purpose of the study, methodology, results and conclusion?
  • Mentally review what you know about the topic
  • Do you know enough to be able to understand the paper? If not, first read about the unfamiliar concepts
  • Read the Introduction section

What is the overall context? Is the problem clearly stated? What does the paper bring new? Did it miss any previous major studies? Identify all the author’s assumptions.

  • Examine graphs, diagrams, tables Analyze the visuals for yourself and try to understand each of them. Make notes on what you understand. Write questions of what you do not understand. Make a guess about what materials/methods you expect to see. Do your own data interpretation and check them against the conclusions.
  • Read the Results section Do you agree with the author’s opinion?
  • As you read, write down terms, techniques, unfamiliar concepts and look them up

Save useful references

Reference management tools are excellent tool to help you with collection, organization, note taking, sharing, and writing bibliographies. It takes disciple to use them efficiently but if done dilligently, the results are worthy.

  • Zotero - A Research & Citation Manager by Mark Eddy Last Updated Nov 8, 2023 190 views this year

Read for comprehension and take notes

Read for comprehension

After first evaluation of sources, critically read the selected sources. Your goal is to determine how much of it to accept, determine its value, and decide whether you plan to include it in your literature review.

Read the whole article, section by section but not necessarily in order and make sure you understand:

Introduction : What is known about the research and what is still unknown. Methods : What was measured? How was measured? Were the measurement appropriate? Did they offer sufficient evidence? Results : What is the main finding? Were there enough data presented? Were there problems not addressed? Discussions : Are these conclusions appropriate? Are there other factors that might have influenced? What does it need to be done to answer remaining questions?

Find answers to your question from first step Formulate new questions and try to answer them

Can you find any discrepancies? What would you have done differently?

Re-read the whole article or just sections as many times you feel you need to

When you believe that you have understood the article, write a summary in your own words (Make sure that there is nothing left that you cannot understand)

As you read, take (extensive) notes. Create your own system to take notes but be consistent. Remember that notes can be taken within the citation management tool.

What to write in your notes:

  • identify key topic, methodology, key terms
  • identify emphases, strengths, weaknesses, gaps (if any)
  • determine relationships to other studies
  • identify the relationship to your research topic
  • new questions you have  
  • suggestions for new directions, new sources to read
  • everything else that seems relevant

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  • Literature Review
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What Is A Literature Review?

Steps for conducting a lit review.

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More about the Literature Review...

Did you know the library has an entire guide to help you write a literature review?  Click the link below to learn more!

  • Literature Review: Conducting & Writing by Britt McGowan Last Updated Mar 22, 2024 77966 views this year

Get Writing Help

The UWF Writing Lab can help you with grammar, proofreading, and answer questions about your paper.  For a full list of their services, look at the Lab Hours and Resources menue.

A Literature Review Is Not:

  • just a summary of sources
  • a grouping of broad, unrelated sources
  • a compilation of  everything  that has been written on a particular topic
  • literature criticism (think English) or a book review

So, what is it then?

A literature review is an integrated analysis-- not just a summary-- of scholarly writings that are related directly to your research question.  That is, it represents the literature that provides background information on your topic and shows a correspondence between those writings and your research question.

A literature review may be a stand alone work or the introduction to a larger research paper, depending on the assignment.  Rely heavily on the guidelines your instructor has given you.

Why is it important?

A literature review is important because it:

  • Explains the background of research on a topic.
  • Demonstrates why a topic is significant to a subject area.
  • Discovers relationships between research studies/ideas.
  • Identifies major themes, concepts, and researchers on a topic.
  • Identifies critical gaps and points of disagreement.
  • Discusses further research questions that logically come out of the previous studies.

1. Choose your topic, define your question

  • Your literature review should be guided by a central research question.  Remember, it is not a collection of loosely related studies in a field but instead represents background and research developments related to a specific research question, interpreted and analyzed by you.

2. Decide on the scope of your review

  • How many studies do you need to look at? How comprehensive should it be? How many years should it cover? 

3. Select the databases you will use to conduct your searches

4. Conduct your searches and find the literature. Keep track of your searches!

  • Review the abstracts and conclusions carefully. This will save you time.
  • Write down the keywords you used and where you found them
  • Use RefWorks to keep track of your citations.

5. Review the literature! This is the most time consuming part.

  • What was the research question of the study you are reviewing? What were the authors trying to discover?
  • Was the research funded by a source that could influence the findings?
  • What were the research methodologies? Analyze its literature review, the samples and variables used, the results, and the conclusions. Does the research seem to be complete? Could it have been conducted more soundly? What further questions does it raise?
  • If there are conflicting studies, why do you think that is?
  • How are the authors viewed in the field? Has this study been cited?; if so, how has it been analyzed?
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Planning and Completing your Research

  • Building your Research Confidence This guide contains information concerning the research process including completing a literature review.

What is a Literature Review?

The literature review surveys and evaluates the relevant and related scholarship on a particular area of research or issue. It summarizes and evaluates the discussions and debate surrounding the topic, noting limitations, interpretations and approaches that support and establish the significance of your argument, research or methodology.  

  • Presents a justification for your paper/research: show how your work fills a gap, or fulfills a need that has been identified by other researchers in the field.
  • Informs your methodology
  • Provides data that can be used to test your theories or results.
  • Helps generate a new theory.

The Process

Engineering: The Literature Research Process (Arizona State University)

Literature Review Process (Case Western)

Types of Research (MBA Knowledge Base)

Types of Literature Reviews  (Univ. of Alabama Libraries)

Choosing a topic (Eastern University)

5 Quick Tips- Writing a Literature Review

How to search

Database Searching Guide: Basic Search Tools (Columbia University)

Internet and Database Searching (Excelsior College Online Writing Lab)

Boolean (and,or,not) Searching MIT Libraries

Evaluate what you find

Literature evaluation and analysis (Case Western)

Evaluating Information tip sheet (University of Wisconsin)

Synthesizing the literature (Case Western)

  • Literature Review Process: Question Prompts to Gide Graduate Research Projects/ Farooq, Omer

Online Tutorials

Searching the literature:

There are many online videos and other sources which discuss conducting an effective literature review.  The following links are to selected sources.  

  • Literature Reviews: An Overview for Graduate Students (North Carolina State University)
  • Writing the Literature Review (University of Maryland) [video]
  • Writing a Literature Review (UNL)
  • Construction Dissertation Guide
  • The Literature Review: A Few Tips On Conducting It (University of Toronto)
  • Writing a Literature Review (Boston College)
  • T hesis Writing - Reviewing the Literature (University of Wollongong)
  • Writing Engineering Reports (Purdue)
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Tips on reading articles better

Reading a lot of articles in short period of time is tough! It's important to take breaks, and to take quick notes after each article. Otherwise it will all blend together.

See this article for advice from different STEM researchers on how they read articles: https://www.sciencemag.org/careers/2016/03/how-seriously-read-scientific-paper

Guides to writing articles and literature reviews in STEM

For individual help with your writing, it's best to book an appointment with the Academic Help Writing Centre on campus .

Cover Art

  • How to Write a good technical paper Short article from Concrete International magazine.

Cover Art

  • Ten Simple Rules for writing a literature review, by Marco Pautasso (2013) A popular article published in PLoS Computational Biology.

literature review topics in engineering

Examples of literature reviews

If you're writing a published article or a thesis, it's always good to read different examples in your field. In a research database like Scopus or Web of Science, you can search for review articles on your topic - see the Find Articles tab. You can also see previous theses in your program. Follow this link, and modify the search to find ones from your department.

Here is an example of a review paper written by a uOttawa PhD student in civil engineering, which is structured by analytical approach.

  • Example journal article with highlights This is a journal article written by two members of the School of EECS here. I have highlighted key phrases in their lit review in which they synthesize and summarize the previous literature.

Science and Engineering Librarian | Bibliothécaire spécialisé en sciences et génie

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Doing a systematic review?

If you've been asked to do a systematic review , we have a guide for doing them . But another type of review might actually be better suited to your project! This chart describes different types of reviews and why you might use them.

What do your professors want in a literature review?

Whether you are doing a topic summary for a term paper, a state-of-the-art survey, or a full literature review for a thesis or article, there are some common expectations that your professors have for graduate student work. They are not looking for you to simply describe some papers that you have read on the topic, one after the other. What they do expect is:

  • That you have found and thoroughly read enough papers to have a solid grasp of the particular topic. This is where it's very important to properly define your topic so you can do a good job, and do a structured database search! You should start to encounter some of the same authors and papers repeatedly as you read, indicating that you are finding the major works in this topic. For searching advice, see the Find Articles tab. You should use at least two search tools (Scopus, Web of Science, Google Scholar, etc).
  • That you have understood them enough to identify major trends, methods, approaches, and differences . This takes work! You do not want to just re-phrase the abstract. See below for some tips on doing this.
  • That you can communicate your own perspective and informed opinion on what is truly important - including where the current research is lacking (where there is a gap). If you are doing your own research, this is a very important part of the literature review as it justifies the rest of your project.

The process of doing a literature review

Process of doing a literature review

Source: North Carolina State University. (n.d.). Literature Reviews: An Overview for Graduate Students . https://www.lib.ncsu.edu/tutorials/litreview/

Reading and note-taking efficiently

Getting started.

You want to be organized from the start when doing a literature review, especially for a project that will take a long time. 

  • In a Word or Excel file, keep track of your searching - which search databases and tools you use, and paste in all the search queries you run that are useful, with parameters. In Scopus, for example, this might be ' TITLE-ABS-KEY   (   anaerobic   AND  digestion   AND  feedstock   )   AND   PUBYEAR   >   2013'. This will help you avoid duplicating work later.
  • Use a citation manager program like Zotero or Mendeley, to keep track of your papers as you find them, and format citations later. See this guide for details on the programs. Save the PDFs to your computer, and attach them to the entries in your citation manager if it isn't added automatically.

Reading and Note-taking on Individual papers

When you actually read the papers that you find, most people take a staged approach to save time:

  • Read the abstract fully to determine if it's actually on topic.
  • If so, read the discussion and conclusion, and the figures and graphs, to figure out if the results were significant or produced interesting results.
  • If so, make sure it is saved. Then read the full article, and annotate the article right away.

What does annotating mean? Take very short notes (on paper or digital) of the most important findings and/or highlight important lines in the paper. You can highlight and annotate the PDF file if you want, or in your citation manager. You don't usually need to summarize the whole article - instead focus on what is important for your research or review, and write it in your own words. This could be the

  • whether the study was theoretical, experimental, numerical simulation, etc
  • main theoretical approach, model, algorithms, etc
  • number of test specimens or subjects
  • key assumptions made that might impact its general validity
  • key outcome measured, statistical significance of it, etc
  • Your own comments - for example, strengths and weaknesses

Synthesizing the papers and structuring your review

Concept mapping.

One technique is to create a concept map or 'mind map' showing the relationships or groupings of the key papers on your topic, with short labels. This way, you can try out different options for how to structure your paper and see which one makes the most sense. You can do this on paper:

You can also do this digitally, using a mind-mapping website. There are some easy-to-use, free tools that are available now. Two that I have used are Coggle and Miro. You can also just sketch on paper.

Mind map showing papers for the topic 'methods for bearing signature extraction'

Created using  Coggle.it, based on a chart in Huang, H. (2018). Methods for Rolling Element Bearing Fault Diagnosis under Constant and Time-varying Rotational Speed Conditions (Ph.D. Thesis, University of Ottawa). http://dx.doi.org/10.20381/ruor-21835

literature review topics in engineering

Image: Pacheco-Vega, R. (2016, June 15). How to do a literature review: Citation tracing, concept saturation and results’ mind-mapping. Retrieved from http://www.raulpacheco.org/2016/06/how-to-do-a-literature-review-citation-tracing-concept-saturation-and-results-mind-mapping/

After you have taken notes on individual articles, it can be very helpful to create a chart with key variables that seem important. Not every article will cover the same material. But there should be some common factors, and some differences between them. This chart is called a synthesis matrix.

Example of a 'synthesis matrix'

Source: University of Western Ontario Library (n.d.). “Writing your literature review”. https://guides.lib.uwo.ca/mme9642/litreview

See this blog post by researcher Raul Pacheco-Vega for another example of how he does this.

This chart can help you decide how to organize your review. If it's a very short review, some people write it chronologically - they describe how the topic evolved, one paper at a time. But if you have more than 10 papers, this is not a good approach. Instead, it is best to organize your review thematically . In this approach, you group the papers into several groups or themes, and discuss each theme in a separate section. Usually the groups are major methods of tackling the problem, or concepts, or techniques.

In each section of your paper, you introduce the theme, and then discuss and compare the papers in the group. Using this approach lets you show that you have not just read the papers, but have understood the topic as a whole, and can synthesize the literature.

For example, this paper co-authored by Ping Li , a Civil Engineering PhD graduate of uOttawa, organizes the papers into three categories: ones that used a 'traditional' approach; ones based on characterization of the soil microstructure, and ones that also incorporate soil mechanics. The strengths and weaknesses of category are discussed, and in the conclusion, the authors recommend approaches for future studies. 

You can often include a form of a synthesis chart in your paper or thesis, as a visual summary of your lit review. This is part of a chart included in a Masters' thesis in Computer Science from uOttawa.

Part of a chart showing various papers on Phishing Detection.

From Le Page, S. (2019). Understanding the Phishing Ecosystem (M.Sc. Thesis, University of Ottawa). http://dx.doi.org/10.20381/ruor-23629

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Literature Reviews in Engineering

Literature review showcase.

Access the full text and review the References section to answer the following:

  • About how many sources are cited?
  • What is the oldest source cited? (Hint! Look for the publication year in the citations.)
  • What types of sources are cited? (Not sure? Try accessing the sources to find out!)
  • How are cited sources used ? (Hint! Skim the text for in-text citations.)
  • Eslam-Panah et al. Fluid dynamics of millefiori
  • Pauliac et al. Effect of Moisture on the Tensile Properties of Composites with Bio-based Fibers and Matrix
  • Rhudy et al. A Pilot Study on Monitoring Airline Pilot Stress Levels

Conducting Literature Reviews

The purpose of a literature review is to familiarize yourself with existing research on a topic. You will acquire knowledge about your topic, and identify gaps that you can explore with your own research.

The following resources are designed to guide you in conducting a literature review in a structured and strategic way.

  • Worksheet: Develop a Research Question Step-by-step guidance on identifying a research topic, conducting background research, concept mapping, identifying keywords, and articulating a research question. A fillable / printable PDF.
  • Worksheet: Develop a Search Strategy Step-by-step guidance on keyword brainstorming, search operators (AND, OR, NOT), and selecting search tools. A fillable / printable PDF.
  • Worksheet: Research Journal Turn dead-ends into productive detours! Step-by-step guidance on evaluating your search sessions to refine your search strategy.
  • Worksheet: Working with Sources Step-by-step guidance on critically reading sources, identifying claims and supporting evidence, and synthesizing information from source materials to support your own analysis. A fillable / printable PDF.

Engineering Databases

General Engineering Research Tools

  • Compendex (Ei Village 2) This link opens in a new window Interdisciplinary engineering database. more... less... Compendex is the most comprehensive interdisciplinary engineering database in the world with over 9 million records referencing 5,000 engineering journals and conference materials dating from 1884.
  • LionSearch This link opens in a new window Search across PSU Libraries books/ebooks, articles, and more.
  • NTRL (National Technical Reports Library) This link opens in a new window Technical reports. more... less... NTRL is the preeminent resource for accessing the latest US government sponsored research, and worldwide scientific, technical, and engineering information.
  • Google Patents Locate patents relevant to a device, material, or process.
  • All engineering research guides Browse additional engineering research guides, including standards research.

Undergraduate Patent Showcase

It's never too early to think about your own intellectual property! These patents are for inventions created by Penn State Berks students.

  • Bonslaver, Gulick, & Miller US20230126769A1 Adjustable vehicle platform [CarToCamp]
  • Schraud et al. US20220371884A1 Hydrothermal process for producing hydrogen [GenHydro]
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What is a Literature Review and What is its Purpose?

The steps in writing a literature review, examples of literature reviews in the sciences, literature review protips, source for this guide.

  • Organizing Your Research with Citation Managers
  • American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Citation Style

A literature review is a survey of scholarly sources on a specific topic. Through a literature review, a researcher will identify related research that has been accomplished, and may explore appropriate methodology for that research. It provides an overview of current knowledge, allowing you to identify relevant theories, methods, and gaps in the existing research.

You need to provide context for your research in relation to what is already known. What is the existing knowledge and where does your research sit within this context? How is your project unique from other similar projects? The literature review gives you a chance to:

  • Demonstrate your familiarity with the topic and its scholarly context
  • Develop a theoretical framework and methodology for your research
  • Position your work in relation to other researchers and theorists
  • Show how your research addresses a gap or contributes to a debate
  • Evaluate the current state of research and demonstrate your knowledge of the scholarly debates around your topic.

A good literature review doesn’t just summarize sources. It analyzes, synthesizes, and critically evaluates to give a clear picture of the state of knowledge on the subject.

Helpful Resources

If you'd like to learn more about best practices in scientific communication, try these resources:

I think and write book cover

Paeez, V. (2022). I think and write, therefore you are confused : technical writing and the language interface (1st ed.). CRC Press. https://doi.org/10.1201/9781003194835

How Scientists Communicate book cover

Kelly, A. (2020).  How scientists communicate : dispatches from the frontiers of knowledge . Oxford University Press.

  • Step 1 - Find Literature
  • Step 2 - Is it Relevant?
  • Step 3 - Themes, Debates, Gaps
  • Step 4 - Develop Outline
  • Step 5 - Write Review

Step 1 : Search for Relevant Literature

Once you have you have clearly defined your topic and have your keywords/phrases ready, search a wide range of sources to find relevant literature, including: WorldCat Discovery (Library's catalog) to find books and documents, Google Scholar, and core databases in your field. Don't forget to search for technical reports, patents, and government documents too.

Remember to use  Boolean operators  to refine your search.

You can't read everything, so try this approach to make an initial decision on articles:

  • Read the article abstract - if it sounds related then
  • Read the findings, results, or summary of the research results - if it still sounds relevant, then
  • Go back and read the entire article
  • If not, discard it and move on

When you find useful book or article, check the bibliography/references to find other relevant sources. The number of of citations an article has (i.e. the number of times other authors have cited a publication) can be an indicator of its importance to the field, but beware of self-citing and ghost citations that can make an article look more critical than it is.

When you get to the point in your search that you are seeing the same articles and authors over and over, you've done a good, comprehensive search.

Step 2 - Evaluate What You Find - Is It Relevant?

As you search,  be thinking about the following questions  as you do your research:

  • What question or problem is the author addressing?
  • What are the key concepts and how are they defined?
  • What are the key theories, models, and methods?
  • Does the research use established frameworks or take an innovative approach?
  • What are the results and conclusions of the study?
  • How does the publication relate to other literature in the field? Does it confirm, add to, or challenge established knowledge?
  • What are the strengths and weaknesses of the research?

Step 3 - Identify Themes, Debates and Gaps in the Literature

As you do your research, begin organizing your literature review’s argument and structure, be sure you understand the connections and relationships between the sources you’ve read. Based on your reading and notes, you can look for:

  • Trends and patterns (in theory, method or results):  do certain approaches become more or less popular over time?
  • Themes:  what questions or concepts recur across the literature?
  • Debates, conflicts and contradictions:  where do sources disagree?
  • Pivotal publications:  are there any influential theories or studies that changed the direction of the field?
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Writing a good literature review can be tough. You might want to take a look at examples of literature reviews others have written

  • New Advances in Nanographene Chemistry New Advances in Nanographene Chemistry, by Akimitsu Narita, Xiao-Ye Wang, Xinliang Feng and Kalus Mullen. Chemical Society Reviews, 2015, 44, 6616-6643; https://doi.org/10.1039/C5CS00183H
  • Girls in the physics classroom Girls in the physics classroom: a review of the research on the participation of girls in physics, by Patricia Murphy and Elizabeth Whitelegg. (2006) Institute of Physics, London, UK; https://oro.open.ac.uk/6499/3/Girls_and_Physics_Report.pdf
  • Structural Optimization in Civil Engineering Structural Optimization in Civil Engineering: a Literature Review, by Linfeng Mei and Qian Wang. Buildings, 2021, 11(2), 66; https://doi.org/10.3390/buildings11020066
  • Biochemistry and Molecular Biology of Flaviviruses Biochemistry and Molecular Biology of Flaviviruses, by Nicholas J Barrows et al. Chemical Reviews 2018, 118, 8, 4448–4482; https://pubs.acs.org/doi/pdf/10.1021/acs.chemrev.7b00719
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  • Published: 10 April 2024

A hybrid particle swarm optimization algorithm for solving engineering problem

  • Jinwei Qiao 1 , 2 ,
  • Guangyuan Wang 1 , 2 ,
  • Zhi Yang 1 , 2 ,
  • Xiaochuan Luo 3 ,
  • Jun Chen 1 , 2 ,
  • Kan Li 4 &
  • Pengbo Liu 1 , 2  

Scientific Reports volume  14 , Article number:  8357 ( 2024 ) Cite this article

Metrics details

  • Computational science
  • Mechanical engineering

To overcome the disadvantages of premature convergence and easy trapping into local optimum solutions, this paper proposes an improved particle swarm optimization algorithm (named NDWPSO algorithm) based on multiple hybrid strategies. Firstly, the elite opposition-based learning method is utilized to initialize the particle position matrix. Secondly, the dynamic inertial weight parameters are given to improve the global search speed in the early iterative phase. Thirdly, a new local optimal jump-out strategy is proposed to overcome the "premature" problem. Finally, the algorithm applies the spiral shrinkage search strategy from the whale optimization algorithm (WOA) and the Differential Evolution (DE) mutation strategy in the later iteration to accelerate the convergence speed. The NDWPSO is further compared with other 8 well-known nature-inspired algorithms (3 PSO variants and 5 other intelligent algorithms) on 23 benchmark test functions and three practical engineering problems. Simulation results prove that the NDWPSO algorithm obtains better results for all 49 sets of data than the other 3 PSO variants. Compared with 5 other intelligent algorithms, the NDWPSO obtains 69.2%, 84.6%, and 84.6% of the best results for the benchmark function ( \({f}_{1}-{f}_{13}\) ) with 3 kinds of dimensional spaces (Dim = 30,50,100) and 80% of the best optimal solutions for 10 fixed-multimodal benchmark functions. Also, the best design solutions are obtained by NDWPSO for all 3 classical practical engineering problems.

Introduction

In the ever-changing society, new optimization problems arise every moment, and they are distributed in various fields, such as automation control 1 , statistical physics 2 , security prevention and temperature prediction 3 , artificial intelligence 4 , and telecommunication technology 5 . Faced with a constant stream of practical engineering optimization problems, traditional solution methods gradually lose their efficiency and convenience, making it more and more expensive to solve the problems. Therefore, researchers have developed many metaheuristic algorithms and successfully applied them to the solution of optimization problems. Among them, Particle swarm optimization (PSO) algorithm 6 is one of the most widely used swarm intelligence algorithms.

However, the basic PSO has a simple operating principle and solves problems with high efficiency and good computational performance, but it suffers from the disadvantages of easily trapping in local optima and premature convergence. To improve the overall performance of the particle swarm algorithm, an improved particle swarm optimization algorithm is proposed by the multiple hybrid strategy in this paper. The improved PSO incorporates the search ideas of other intelligent algorithms (DE, WOA), so the improved algorithm proposed in this paper is named NDWPSO. The main improvement schemes are divided into the following 4 points: Firstly, a strategy of elite opposition-based learning is introduced into the particle population position initialization. A high-quality initialization matrix of population position can improve the convergence speed of the algorithm. Secondly, a dynamic weight methodology is adopted for the acceleration coefficients by combining the iterative map and linearly transformed method. This method utilizes the chaotic nature of the mapping function, the fast convergence capability of the dynamic weighting scheme, and the time-varying property of the acceleration coefficients. Thus, the global search and local search of the algorithm are balanced and the global search speed of the population is improved. Thirdly, a determination mechanism is set up to detect whether the algorithm falls into a local optimum. When the algorithm is “premature”, the population resets 40% of the position information to overcome the local optimum. Finally, the spiral shrinking mechanism combined with the DE/best/2 position mutation is used in the later iteration, which further improves the solution accuracy.

The structure of the paper is given as follows: Sect. “ Particle swarm optimization (PSO) ” describes the principle of the particle swarm algorithm. Section “ Improved particle swarm optimization algorithm ” shows the detailed improvement strategy and a comparison experiment of inertia weight is set up for the proposed NDWPSO. Section “ Experiment and discussion ” includes the experimental and result discussion sections on the performance of the improved algorithm. Section “ Conclusions and future works ” summarizes the main findings of this study.

Literature review

This section reviews some metaheuristic algorithms and other improved PSO algorithms. A simple discussion about recently proposed research studies is given.

Metaheuristic algorithms

A series of metaheuristic algorithms have been proposed in recent years by using various innovative approaches. For instance, Lin et al. 7 proposed a novel artificial bee colony algorithm (ABCLGII) in 2018 and compared ABCLGII with other outstanding ABC variants on 52 frequently used test functions. Abed-alguni et al. 8 proposed an exploratory cuckoo search (ECS) algorithm in 2021 and carried out several experiments to investigate the performance of ECS by 14 benchmark functions. Brajević 9 presented a novel shuffle-based artificial bee colony (SB-ABC) algorithm for solving integer programming and minimax problems in 2021. The experiments are tested on 7 integer programming problems and 10 minimax problems. In 2022, Khan et al. 10 proposed a non-deterministic meta-heuristic algorithm called Non-linear Activated Beetle Antennae Search (NABAS) for a non-convex tax-aware portfolio selection problem. Brajević et al. 11 proposed a hybridization of the sine cosine algorithm (HSCA) in 2022 to solve 15 complex structural and mechanical engineering design optimization problems. Abed-Alguni et al. 12 proposed an improved Salp Swarm Algorithm (ISSA) in 2022 for single-objective continuous optimization problems. A set of 14 standard benchmark functions was used to evaluate the performance of ISSA. In 2023, Nadimi et al. 13 proposed a binary starling murmuration optimization (BSMO) to select the effective features from different important diseases. In the same year, Nadimi et al. 14 systematically reviewed the last 5 years' developments of WOA and made a critical analysis of those WOA variants. In 2024, Fatahi et al. 15 proposed an Improved Binary Quantum-based Avian Navigation Optimizer Algorithm (IBQANA) for the Feature Subset Selection problem in the medical area. Experimental evaluation on 12 medical datasets demonstrates that IBQANA outperforms 7 established algorithms. Abed-alguni et al. 16 proposed an Improved Binary DJaya Algorithm (IBJA) to solve the Feature Selection problem in 2024. The IBJA’s performance was compared against 4 ML classifiers and 10 efficient optimization algorithms.

Improved PSO algorithms

Many researchers have constantly proposed some improved PSO algorithms to solve engineering problems in different fields. For instance, Yeh 17 proposed an improved particle swarm algorithm, which combines a new self-boundary search and a bivariate update mechanism, to solve the reliability redundancy allocation problem (RRAP) problem. Solomon et al. 18 designed a collaborative multi-group particle swarm algorithm with high parallelism that was used to test the adaptability of Graphics Processing Units (GPUs) in distributed computing environments. Mukhopadhyay and Banerjee 19 proposed a chaotic multi-group particle swarm optimization (CMS-PSO) to estimate the unknown parameters of an autonomous chaotic laser system. Duan et al. 20 designed an improved particle swarm algorithm with nonlinear adjustment of inertia weights to improve the coupling accuracy between laser diodes and single-mode fibers. Sun et al. 21 proposed a particle swarm optimization algorithm combined with non-Gaussian stochastic distribution for the optimal design of wind turbine blades. Based on a multiple swarm scheme, Liu et al. 22 proposed an improved particle swarm optimization algorithm to predict the temperatures of steel billets for the reheating furnace. In 2022, Gad 23 analyzed the existing 2140 papers on Swarm Intelligence between 2017 and 2019 and pointed out that the PSO algorithm still needs further research. In general, the improved methods can be classified into four categories:

Adjusting the distribution of algorithm parameters. Feng et al. 24 used a nonlinear adaptive method on inertia weights to balance local and global search and introduced asynchronously varying acceleration coefficients.

Changing the updating formula of the particle swarm position. Both papers 25 and 26 used chaotic mapping functions to update the inertia weight parameters and combined them with a dynamic weighting strategy to update the particle swarm positions. This improved approach enables the particle swarm algorithm to be equipped with fast convergence of performance.

The initialization of the swarm. Alsaidy and Abbood proposed 27 a hybrid task scheduling algorithm that replaced the random initialization of the meta-heuristic algorithm with the heuristic algorithms MCT-PSO and LJFP-PSO.

Combining with other intelligent algorithms: Liu et al. 28 introduced the differential evolution (DE) algorithm into PSO to increase the particle swarm as diversity and reduce the probability of the population falling into local optimum.

Particle swarm optimization (PSO)

The particle swarm optimization algorithm is a population intelligence algorithm for solving continuous and discrete optimization problems. It originated from the social behavior of individuals in bird and fish flocks 6 . The core of the PSO algorithm is that an individual particle identifies potential solutions by flight in a defined constraint space adjusts its exploration direction to approach the global optimal solution based on the shared information among the group, and finally solves the optimization problem. Each particle \(i\) includes two attributes: velocity vector \({V}_{i}=\left[{v}_{i1},{v}_{i2},{v}_{i3},{...,v}_{ij},{...,v}_{iD},\right]\) and position vector \({X}_{i}=[{x}_{i1},{x}_{i2},{x}_{i3},...,{x}_{ij},...,{x}_{iD}]\) . The velocity vector is used to modify the motion path of the swarm; the position vector represents a potential solution for the optimization problem. Here, \(j=\mathrm{1,2},\dots ,D\) , \(D\) represents the dimension of the constraint space. The equations for updating the velocity and position of the particle swarm are shown in Eqs. ( 1 ) and ( 2 ).

Here \({Pbest}_{i}^{k}\) represents the previous optimal position of the particle \(i\) , and \({Gbest}\) is the optimal position discovered by the whole population. \(i=\mathrm{1,2},\dots ,n\) , \(n\) denotes the size of the particle swarm. \({c}_{1}\) and \({c}_{2}\) are the acceleration constants, which are used to adjust the search step of the particle 29 . \({r}_{1}\) and \({r}_{2}\) are two random uniform values distributed in the range \([\mathrm{0,1}]\) , which are used to improve the randomness of the particle search. \(\omega\) inertia weight parameter, which is used to adjust the scale of the search range of the particle swarm 30 . The basic PSO sets the inertia weight parameter as a time-varying parameter to balance global exploration and local seeking. The updated equation of the inertia weight parameter is given as follows:

where \({\omega }_{max}\) and \({\omega }_{min}\) represent the upper and lower limits of the range of inertia weight parameter. \(k\) and \(Mk\) are the current iteration and maximum iteration.

Improved particle swarm optimization algorithm

According to the no free lunch theory 31 , it is known that no algorithm can solve every practical problem with high quality and efficiency for increasingly complex and diverse optimization problems. In this section, several improvement strategies are proposed to improve the search efficiency and overcome this shortcoming of the basic PSO algorithm.

Improvement strategies

The optimization strategies of the improved PSO algorithm are shown as follows:

The inertia weight parameter is updated by an improved chaotic variables method instead of a linear decreasing strategy. Chaotic mapping performs the whole search at a higher speed and is more resistant to falling into local optimal than the probability-dependent random search 32 . However, the population may result in that particles can easily fly out of the global optimum boundary. To ensure that the population can converge to the global optimum, an improved Iterative mapping is adopted and shown as follows:

Here \({\omega }_{k}\) is the inertia weight parameter in the iteration \(k\) , \(b\) is the control parameter in the range \([\mathrm{0,1}]\) .

The acceleration coefficients are updated by the linear transformation. \({c}_{1}\) and \({c}_{2}\) represent the influential coefficients of the particles by their own and population information, respectively. To improve the search performance of the population, \({c}_{1}\) and \({c}_{2}\) are changed from fixed values to time-varying parameter parameters, that are updated by linear transformation with the number of iterations:

where \({c}_{max}\) and \({c}_{min}\) are the maximum and minimum values of acceleration coefficients, respectively.

The initialization scheme is determined by elite opposition-based learning . The high-quality initial population will accelerate the solution speed of the algorithm and improve the accuracy of the optimal solution. Thus, the elite backward learning strategy 33 is introduced to generate the position matrix of the initial population. Suppose the elite individual of the population is \({X}=[{x}_{1},{x}_{2},{x}_{3},...,{x}_{j},...,{x}_{D}]\) , and the elite opposition-based solution of \(X\) is \({X}_{o}=[{x}_{{\text{o}}1},{x}_{{\text{o}}2},{x}_{{\text{o}}3},...,{x}_{oj},...,{x}_{oD}]\) . The formula for the elite opposition-based solution is as follows:

where \({k}_{r}\) is the random value in the range \((\mathrm{0,1})\) . \({ux}_{oij}\) and \({lx}_{oij}\) are dynamic boundaries of the elite opposition-based solution in \(j\) dimensional variables. The advantage of dynamic boundary is to reduce the exploration space of particles, which is beneficial to the convergence of the algorithm. When the elite opposition-based solution is out of bounds, the out-of-bounds processing is performed. The equation is given as follows:

After calculating the fitness function values of the elite solution and the elite opposition-based solution, respectively, \(n\) high quality solutions were selected to form a new initial population position matrix.

The position updating Eq. ( 2 ) is modified based on the strategy of dynamic weight. To improve the speed of the global search of the population, the strategy of dynamic weight from the artificial bee colony algorithm 34 is introduced to enhance the computational performance. The new position updating equation is shown as follows:

Here \(\rho\) is the random value in the range \((\mathrm{0,1})\) . \(\psi\) represents the acceleration coefficient and \({\omega }{\prime}\) is the dynamic weight coefficient. The updated equations of the above parameters are as follows:

where \(f(i)\) denotes the fitness function value of individual particle \(i\) and u is the average of the population fitness function values in the current iteration. The Eqs. ( 11 , 12 ) are introduced into the position updating equation. And they can attract the particle towards positions of the best-so-far solution in the search space.

New local optimal jump-out strategy is added for escaping from the local optimal. When the value of the fitness function for the population optimal particles does not change in M iterations, the algorithm determines that the population falls into a local optimal. The scheme in which the population jumps out of the local optimum is to reset the position information of the 40% of individuals within the population, in other words, to randomly generate the position vector in the search space. M is set to 5% of the maximum number of iterations.

New spiral update search strategy is added after the local optimal jump-out strategy. Since the whale optimization algorithm (WOA) was good at exploring the local search space 35 , the spiral update search strategy in the WOA 36 is introduced to update the position of the particles after the swarm jumps out of local optimal. The equation for the spiral update is as follows:

Here \(D=\left|{x}_{i}\left(k\right)-Gbest\right|\) denotes the distance between the particle itself and the global optimal solution so far. \(B\) is the constant that defines the shape of the logarithmic spiral. \(l\) is the random value in \([-\mathrm{1,1}]\) . \(l\) represents the distance between the newly generated particle and the global optimal position, \(l=-1\) means the closest distance, while \(l=1\) means the farthest distance, and the meaning of this parameter can be directly observed by Fig.  1 .

figure 1

Spiral updating position.

The DE/best/2 mutation strategy is introduced to form the mutant particle. 4 individuals in the population are randomly selected that differ from the current particle, then the vector difference between them is rescaled, and the difference vector is combined with the global optimal position to form the mutant particle. The equation for mutation of particle position is shown as follows:

where \({x}^{*}\) is the mutated particle, \(F\) is the scale factor of mutation, \({r}_{1}\) , \({r}_{2}\) , \({r}_{3}\) , \({r}_{4}\) are random integer values in \((0,n]\) and not equal to \(i\) , respectively. Specific particles are selected for mutation with the screening conditions as follows:

where \(Cr\) represents the probability of mutation, \(rand\left(\mathrm{0,1}\right)\) is a random number in \(\left(\mathrm{0,1}\right)\) , and \({i}_{rand}\) is a random integer value in \((0,n]\) .

The improved PSO incorporates the search ideas of other intelligent algorithms (DE, WOA), so the improved algorithm proposed in this paper is named NDWPSO. The pseudo-code for the NDWPSO algorithm is given as follows:

figure a

The main procedure of NDWPSO.

Comparing the distribution of inertia weight parameters

There are several improved PSO algorithms (such as CDWPSO 25 , and SDWPSO 26 ) that adopt the dynamic weighted particle position update strategy as their improvement strategy. The updated equations of the CDWPSO and the SDWPSO algorithm for the inertia weight parameters are given as follows:

where \({\text{A}}\) is a value in \((\mathrm{0,1}]\) . \({r}_{max}\) and \({r}_{min}\) are the upper and lower limits of the fluctuation range of the inertia weight parameters, \(k\) is the current number of algorithm iterations, and \(Mk\) denotes the maximum number of iterations.

Considering that the update method of inertia weight parameters by our proposed NDWPSO is comparable to the CDWPSO, and SDWPSO, a comparison experiment for the distribution of inertia weight parameters is set up in this section. The maximum number of iterations in the experiment is \(Mk=500\) . The distributions of CDWPSO, SDWPSO, and NDWPSO inertia weights are shown sequentially in Fig.  2 .

figure 2

The inertial weight distribution of CDWPSO, SDWPSO, and NDWPSO.

In Fig.  2 , the inertia weight value of CDWPSO is a random value in (0,1]. It may make individual particles fly out of the range in the late iteration of the algorithm. Similarly, the inertia weight value of SDWPSO is a value that tends to zero infinitely, so that the swarm no longer can fly in the search space, making the algorithm extremely easy to fall into the local optimal value. On the other hand, the distribution of the inertia weights of the NDWPSO forms a gentle slope by two curves. Thus, the swarm can faster lock the global optimum range in the early iterations and locate the global optimal more precisely in the late iterations. The reason is that the inertia weight values between two adjacent iterations are inversely proportional to each other. Besides, the time-varying part of the inertial weight within NDWPSO is designed to reduce the chaos characteristic of the parameters. The inertia weight value of NDWPSO avoids the disadvantages of the above two schemes, so its design is more reasonable.

Experiment and discussion

In this section, three experiments are set up to evaluate the performance of NDWPSO: (1) the experiment of 23 classical functions 37 between NDWPSO and three particle swarm algorithms (PSO 6 , CDWPSO 25 , SDWPSO 26 ); (2) the experiment of benchmark test functions between NDWPSO and other intelligent algorithms (Whale Optimization Algorithm (WOA) 36 , Harris Hawk Algorithm (HHO) 38 , Gray Wolf Optimization Algorithm (GWO) 39 , Archimedes Algorithm (AOA) 40 , Equilibrium Optimizer (EO) 41 and Differential Evolution (DE) 42 ); (3) the experiment for solving three real engineering problems (welded beam design 43 , pressure vessel design 44 , and three-bar truss design 38 ). All experiments are run on a computer with Intel i5-11400F GPU, 2.60 GHz, 16 GB RAM, and the code is written with MATLAB R2017b.

The benchmark test functions are 23 classical functions, which consist of indefinite unimodal (F1–F7), indefinite dimensional multimodal functions (F8–F13), and fixed-dimensional multimodal functions (F14–F23). The unimodal benchmark function is used to evaluate the global search performance of different algorithms, while the multimodal benchmark function reflects the ability of the algorithm to escape from the local optimal. The mathematical equations of the benchmark functions are shown and found as Supplementary Tables S1 – S3 online.

Experiments on benchmark functions between NDWPSO, and other PSO variants

The purpose of the experiment is to show the performance advantages of the NDWPSO algorithm. Here, the dimensions and corresponding population sizes of 13 benchmark functions (7 unimodal and 6 multimodal) are set to (30, 40), (50, 70), and (100, 130). The population size of 10 fixed multimodal functions is set to 40. Each algorithm is repeated 30 times independently, and the maximum number of iterations is 200. The performance of the algorithm is measured by the mean and the standard deviation (SD) of the results for different benchmark functions. The parameters of the NDWPSO are set as: \({[{\omega }_{min},\omega }_{max}]=[\mathrm{0.4,0.9}]\) , \(\left[{c}_{max},{c}_{min}\right]=\left[\mathrm{2.5,1.5}\right],{V}_{max}=0.1,b={e}^{-50}, M=0.05\times Mk, B=1,F=0.7, Cr=0.9.\) And, \(A={\omega }_{max}\) for CDWPSO; \({[r}_{max},{r}_{min}]=[\mathrm{4,0}]\) for SDWPSO.

Besides, the experimental data are retained to two decimal places, but some experimental data will increase the number of retained data to pursue more accuracy in comparison. The best results in each group of experiments will be displayed in bold font. The experimental data is set to 0 if the value is below 10 –323 . The experimental parameter settings in this paper are different from the references (PSO 6 , CDWPSO 25 , SDWPSO 26 , so the final experimental data differ from the ones within the reference.

As shown in Tables 1 and 2 , the NDWPSO algorithm obtains better results for all 49 sets of data than other PSO variants, which include not only 13 indefinite-dimensional benchmark functions and 10 fixed-multimodal benchmark functions. Remarkably, the SDWPSO algorithm obtains the same accuracy of calculation as NDWPSO for both unimodal functions f 1 –f 4 and multimodal functions f 9 –f 11 . The solution accuracy of NDWPSO is higher than that of other PSO variants for fixed-multimodal benchmark functions f 14 -f 23 . The conclusion can be drawn that the NDWPSO has excellent global search capability, local search capability, and the capability for escaping the local optimal.

In addition, the convergence curves of the 23 benchmark functions are shown in Figs. 3 , 4 , 5 , 6 , 7 , 8 , 9 , 10 , 11 , 12 , 13 , 14 , 15 , 16 , 17 , 18 and 19 . The NDWPSO algorithm has a faster convergence speed in the early stage of the search for processing functions f1-f6, f8-f14, f16, f17, and finds the global optimal solution with a smaller number of iterations. In the remaining benchmark function experiments, the NDWPSO algorithm shows no outstanding performance for convergence speed in the early iterations. There are two reasons of no outstanding performance in the early iterations. On one hand, the fixed-multimodal benchmark function has many disturbances and local optimal solutions in the whole search space. on the other hand, the initialization scheme based on elite opposition-based learning is still stochastic, which leads to the initial position far from the global optimal solution. The inertia weight based on chaotic mapping and the strategy of spiral updating can significantly improve the convergence speed and computational accuracy of the algorithm in the late search stage. Finally, the NDWPSO algorithm can find better solutions than other algorithms in the middle and late stages of the search.

figure 3

Evolution curve of NDWPSO and other PSO algorithms for f1 (Dim = 30,50,100).

figure 4

Evolution curve of NDWPSO and other PSO algorithms for f2 (Dim = 30,50,100).

figure 5

Evolution curve of NDWPSO and other PSO algorithms for f3 (Dim = 30,50,100).

figure 6

Evolution curve of NDWPSO and other PSO algorithms for f4 (Dim = 30,50,100).

figure 7

Evolution curve of NDWPSO and other PSO algorithms for f5 (Dim = 30,50,100).

figure 8

Evolution curve of NDWPSO and other PSO algorithms for f6 (Dim = 30,50,100).

figure 9

Evolution curve of NDWPSO and other PSO algorithms for f7 (Dim = 30,50,100).

figure 10

Evolution curve of NDWPSO and other PSO algorithms for f8 (Dim = 30,50,100).

figure 11

Evolution curve of NDWPSO and other PSO algorithms for f9 (Dim = 30,50,100).

figure 12

Evolution curve of NDWPSO and other PSO algorithms for f10 (Dim = 30,50,100).

figure 13

Evolution curve of NDWPSO and other PSO algorithms for f11(Dim = 30,50,100).

figure 14

Evolution curve of NDWPSO and other PSO algorithms for f12 (Dim = 30,50,100).

figure 15

Evolution curve of NDWPSO and other PSO algorithms for f13 (Dim = 30,50,100).

figure 16

Evolution curve of NDWPSO and other PSO algorithms for f14, f15, f16.

figure 17

Evolution curve of NDWPSO and other PSO algorithms for f17, f18, f19.

figure 18

Evolution curve of NDWPSO and other PSO algorithms for f20, f21, f22.

figure 19

Evolution curve of NDWPSO and other PSO algorithms for f23.

To evaluate the performance of different PSO algorithms, a statistical test is conducted. Due to the stochastic nature of the meta-heuristics, it is not enough to compare algorithms based on only the mean and standard deviation values. The optimization results cannot be assumed to obey the normal distribution; thus, it is necessary to judge whether the results of the algorithms differ from each other in a statistically significant way. Here, the Wilcoxon non-parametric statistical test 45 is used to obtain a parameter called p -value to verify whether two sets of solutions are different to a statistically significant extent or not. Generally, it is considered that p  ≤ 0.5 can be considered as a statistically significant superiority of the results. The p -values calculated in Wilcoxon’s rank-sum test comparing NDWPSO and other PSO algorithms are listed in Table  3 for all benchmark functions. The p -values in Table  3 additionally present the superiority of the NDWPSO because all of the p -values are much smaller than 0.5.

In general, the NDWPSO has the fastest convergence rate when finding the global optimum from Figs. 3 , 4 , 5 , 6 , 7 , 8 , 9 , 10 , 11 , 12 , 13 , 14 , 15 , 16 , 17 , 18 and 19 , and thus we can conclude that the NDWPSO is superior to the other PSO variants during the process of optimization.

Comparison experiments between NDWPSO and other intelligent algorithms

Experiments are conducted to compare NDWPSO with several other intelligent algorithms (WOA, HHO, GWO, AOA, EO and DE). The experimental object is 23 benchmark functions, and the experimental parameters of the NDWPSO algorithm are set the same as in Experiment 4.1. The maximum number of iterations of the experiment is increased to 2000 to fully demonstrate the performance of each algorithm. Each algorithm is repeated 30 times individually. The parameters of the relevant intelligent algorithms in the experiments are set as shown in Table 4 . To ensure the fairness of the algorithm comparison, all parameters are concerning the original parameters in the relevant algorithm literature. The experimental results are shown in Tables 5 , 6 , 7 and 8 and Figs. 20 , 21 , 22 , 23 , 24 , 25 , 26 , 27 , 28 , 29 , 30 , 31 , 32 , 33 , 34 , 35 and 36 .

figure 20

Evolution curve of NDWPSO and other algorithms for f1 (Dim = 30,50,100).

figure 21

Evolution curve of NDWPSO and other algorithms for f2 (Dim = 30,50,100).

figure 22

Evolution curve of NDWPSO and other algorithms for f3(Dim = 30,50,100).

figure 23

Evolution curve of NDWPSO and other algorithms for f4 (Dim = 30,50,100).

figure 24

Evolution curve of NDWPSO and other algorithms for f5 (Dim = 30,50,100).

figure 25

Evolution curve of NDWPSO and other algorithms for f6 (Dim = 30,50,100).

figure 26

Evolution curve of NDWPSO and other algorithms for f7 (Dim = 30,50,100).

figure 27

Evolution curve of NDWPSO and other algorithms for f8 (Dim = 30,50,100).

figure 28

Evolution curve of NDWPSO and other algorithms for f9(Dim = 30,50,100).

figure 29

Evolution curve of NDWPSO and other algorithms for f10 (Dim = 30,50,100).

figure 30

Evolution curve of NDWPSO and other algorithms for f11 (Dim = 30,50,100).

figure 31

Evolution curve of NDWPSO and other algorithms for f12 (Dim = 30,50,100).

figure 32

Evolution curve of NDWPSO and other algorithms for f13 (Dim = 30,50,100).

figure 33

Evolution curve of NDWPSO and other algorithms for f14, f15, f16.

figure 34

Evolution curve of NDWPSO and other algorithms for f17, f18, f19.

figure 35

Evolution curve of NDWPSO and other algorithms for f20, f21, f22.

figure 36

Evolution curve of NDWPSO and other algorithms for f23.

The experimental data of NDWPSO and other intelligent algorithms for handling 30, 50, and 100-dimensional benchmark functions ( \({f}_{1}-{f}_{13}\) ) are recorded in Tables 8 , 9 and 10 , respectively. The comparison data of fixed-multimodal benchmark tests ( \({f}_{14}-{f}_{23}\) ) are recorded in Table 11 . According to the data in Tables 5 , 6 and 7 , the NDWPSO algorithm obtains 69.2%, 84.6%, and 84.6% of the best results for the benchmark function ( \({f}_{1}-{f}_{13}\) ) in the search space of three dimensions (Dim = 30, 50, 100), respectively. In Table 8 , the NDWPSO algorithm obtains 80% of the optimal solutions in 10 fixed-multimodal benchmark functions.

The convergence curves of each algorithm are shown in Figs. 20 , 21 , 22 , 23 , 24 , 25 , 26 , 27 , 28 , 29 , 30 , 31 , 32 , 33 , 34 , 35 and 36 . The NDWPSO algorithm demonstrates two convergence behaviors when calculating the benchmark functions in 30, 50, and 100-dimensional search spaces. The first behavior is the fast convergence of NDWPSO with a small number of iterations at the beginning of the search. The reason is that the Iterative-mapping strategy and the position update scheme of dynamic weighting are used in the NDWPSO algorithm. This scheme can quickly target the region in the search space where the global optimum is located, and then precisely lock the optimal solution. When NDWPSO processes the functions \({f}_{1}-{f}_{4}\) , and \({f}_{9}-{f}_{11}\) , the behavior can be reflected in the convergence trend of their corresponding curves. The second behavior is that NDWPSO gradually improves the convergence accuracy and rapidly approaches the global optimal in the middle and late stages of the iteration. The NDWPSO algorithm fails to converge quickly in the early iterations, which is possible to prevent the swarm from falling into a local optimal. The behavior can be demonstrated by the convergence trend of the curves when NDWPSO handles the functions \({f}_{6}\) , \({f}_{12}\) , and \({f}_{13}\) , and it also shows that the NDWPSO algorithm has an excellent ability of local search.

Combining the experimental data with the convergence curves, it is concluded that the NDWPSO algorithm has a faster convergence speed, so the effectiveness and global convergence of the NDWPSO algorithm are more outstanding than other intelligent algorithms.

Experiments on classical engineering problems

Three constrained classical engineering design problems (welded beam design, pressure vessel design 43 , and three-bar truss design 38 ) are used to evaluate the NDWPSO algorithm. The experiments are the NDWPSO algorithm and 5 other intelligent algorithms (WOA 36 , HHO, GWO, AOA, EO 41 ). Each algorithm is provided with the maximum number of iterations and population size ( \({\text{Mk}}=500,\mathrm{ n}=40\) ), and then repeats 30 times, independently. The parameters of the algorithms are set the same as in Table 4 . The experimental results of three engineering design problems are recorded in Tables 9 , 10 and 11 in turn. The result data is the average value of the solved data.

Welded beam design

The target of the welded beam design problem is to find the optimal manufacturing cost for the welded beam with the constraints, as shown in Fig.  37 . The constraints are the thickness of the weld seam ( \({\text{h}}\) ), the length of the clamped bar ( \({\text{l}}\) ), the height of the bar ( \({\text{t}}\) ) and the thickness of the bar ( \({\text{b}}\) ). The mathematical formulation of the optimization problem is given as follows:

figure 37

Welded beam design.

In Table 9 , the NDWPSO, GWO, and EO algorithms obtain the best optimal cost. Besides, the standard deviation (SD) of t NDWPSO is the lowest, which means it has very good results in solving the welded beam design problem.

Pressure vessel design

Kannan and Kramer 43 proposed the pressure vessel design problem as shown in Fig.  38 to minimize the total cost, including the cost of material, forming, and welding. There are four design optimized objects: the thickness of the shell \({T}_{s}\) ; the thickness of the head \({T}_{h}\) ; the inner radius \({\text{R}}\) ; the length of the cylindrical section without considering the head \({\text{L}}\) . The problem includes the objective function and constraints as follows:

figure 38

Pressure vessel design.

The results in Table 10 show that the NDWPSO algorithm obtains the lowest optimal cost with the same constraints and has the lowest standard deviation compared with other algorithms, which again proves the good performance of NDWPSO in terms of solution accuracy.

Three-bar truss design

This structural design problem 44 is one of the most widely-used case studies as shown in Fig.  39 . There are two main design parameters: the area of the bar1 and 3 ( \({A}_{1}={A}_{3}\) ) and area of bar 2 ( \({A}_{2}\) ). The objective is to minimize the weight of the truss. This problem is subject to several constraints as well: stress, deflection, and buckling constraints. The problem is formulated as follows:

figure 39

Three-bar truss design.

From Table 11 , NDWPSO obtains the best design solution in this engineering problem and has the smallest standard deviation of the result data. In summary, the NDWPSO can reveal very competitive results compared to other intelligent algorithms.

Conclusions and future works

An improved algorithm named NDWPSO is proposed to enhance the solving speed and improve the computational accuracy at the same time. The improved NDWPSO algorithm incorporates the search ideas of other intelligent algorithms (DE, WOA). Besides, we also proposed some new hybrid strategies to adjust the distribution of algorithm parameters (such as the inertia weight parameter, the acceleration coefficients, the initialization scheme, the position updating equation, and so on).

23 classical benchmark functions: indefinite unimodal (f1-f7), indefinite multimodal (f8-f13), and fixed-dimensional multimodal(f14-f23) are applied to evaluate the effective line and feasibility of the NDWPSO algorithm. Firstly, NDWPSO is compared with PSO, CDWPSO, and SDWPSO. The simulation results can prove the exploitative, exploratory, and local optima avoidance of NDWPSO. Secondly, the NDWPSO algorithm is compared with 5 other intelligent algorithms (WOA, HHO, GWO, AOA, EO). The NDWPSO algorithm also has better performance than other intelligent algorithms. Finally, 3 classical engineering problems are applied to prove that the NDWPSO algorithm shows superior results compared to other algorithms for the constrained engineering optimization problems.

Although the proposed NDWPSO is superior in many computation aspects, there are still some limitations and further improvements are needed. The NDWPSO performs a limit initialize on each particle by the strategy of “elite opposition-based learning”, it takes more computation time before speed update. Besides, the” local optimal jump-out” strategy also brings some random process. How to reduce the random process and how to improve the limit initialize efficiency are the issues that need to be further discussed. In addition, in future work, researchers will try to apply the NDWPSO algorithm to wider fields to solve more complex and diverse optimization problems.

Data availability

The datasets used and/or analyzed during the current study available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.

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Acknowledgements

This work was supported by Key R&D plan of Shandong Province, China (2021CXGC010207, 2023CXGC01020); First batch of talent research projects of Qilu University of Technology in 2023 (2023RCKY116); Introduction of urgently needed talent projects in Key Supported Regions of Shandong Province; Key Projects of Natural Science Foundation of Shandong Province (ZR2020ME116); the Innovation Ability Improvement Project for Technology-based Small- and Medium-sized Enterprises of Shandong Province (2022TSGC2051, 2023TSGC0024, 2023TSGC0931); National Key R&D Program of China (2019YFB1705002), LiaoNing Revitalization Talents Program (XLYC2002041) and Young Innovative Talents Introduction & Cultivation Program for Colleges and Universities of Shandong Province (Granted by Department of Education of Shandong Province, Sub-Title: Innovative Research Team of High Performance Integrated Device).

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Ten Simple Rules for Writing a Literature Review

Marco pautasso.

1 Centre for Functional and Evolutionary Ecology (CEFE), CNRS, Montpellier, France

2 Centre for Biodiversity Synthesis and Analysis (CESAB), FRB, Aix-en-Provence, France

Literature reviews are in great demand in most scientific fields. Their need stems from the ever-increasing output of scientific publications [1] . For example, compared to 1991, in 2008 three, eight, and forty times more papers were indexed in Web of Science on malaria, obesity, and biodiversity, respectively [2] . Given such mountains of papers, scientists cannot be expected to examine in detail every single new paper relevant to their interests [3] . Thus, it is both advantageous and necessary to rely on regular summaries of the recent literature. Although recognition for scientists mainly comes from primary research, timely literature reviews can lead to new synthetic insights and are often widely read [4] . For such summaries to be useful, however, they need to be compiled in a professional way [5] .

When starting from scratch, reviewing the literature can require a titanic amount of work. That is why researchers who have spent their career working on a certain research issue are in a perfect position to review that literature. Some graduate schools are now offering courses in reviewing the literature, given that most research students start their project by producing an overview of what has already been done on their research issue [6] . However, it is likely that most scientists have not thought in detail about how to approach and carry out a literature review.

Reviewing the literature requires the ability to juggle multiple tasks, from finding and evaluating relevant material to synthesising information from various sources, from critical thinking to paraphrasing, evaluating, and citation skills [7] . In this contribution, I share ten simple rules I learned working on about 25 literature reviews as a PhD and postdoctoral student. Ideas and insights also come from discussions with coauthors and colleagues, as well as feedback from reviewers and editors.

Rule 1: Define a Topic and Audience

How to choose which topic to review? There are so many issues in contemporary science that you could spend a lifetime of attending conferences and reading the literature just pondering what to review. On the one hand, if you take several years to choose, several other people may have had the same idea in the meantime. On the other hand, only a well-considered topic is likely to lead to a brilliant literature review [8] . The topic must at least be:

  • interesting to you (ideally, you should have come across a series of recent papers related to your line of work that call for a critical summary),
  • an important aspect of the field (so that many readers will be interested in the review and there will be enough material to write it), and
  • a well-defined issue (otherwise you could potentially include thousands of publications, which would make the review unhelpful).

Ideas for potential reviews may come from papers providing lists of key research questions to be answered [9] , but also from serendipitous moments during desultory reading and discussions. In addition to choosing your topic, you should also select a target audience. In many cases, the topic (e.g., web services in computational biology) will automatically define an audience (e.g., computational biologists), but that same topic may also be of interest to neighbouring fields (e.g., computer science, biology, etc.).

Rule 2: Search and Re-search the Literature

After having chosen your topic and audience, start by checking the literature and downloading relevant papers. Five pieces of advice here:

  • keep track of the search items you use (so that your search can be replicated [10] ),
  • keep a list of papers whose pdfs you cannot access immediately (so as to retrieve them later with alternative strategies),
  • use a paper management system (e.g., Mendeley, Papers, Qiqqa, Sente),
  • define early in the process some criteria for exclusion of irrelevant papers (these criteria can then be described in the review to help define its scope), and
  • do not just look for research papers in the area you wish to review, but also seek previous reviews.

The chances are high that someone will already have published a literature review ( Figure 1 ), if not exactly on the issue you are planning to tackle, at least on a related topic. If there are already a few or several reviews of the literature on your issue, my advice is not to give up, but to carry on with your own literature review,

An external file that holds a picture, illustration, etc.
Object name is pcbi.1003149.g001.jpg

The bottom-right situation (many literature reviews but few research papers) is not just a theoretical situation; it applies, for example, to the study of the impacts of climate change on plant diseases, where there appear to be more literature reviews than research studies [33] .

  • discussing in your review the approaches, limitations, and conclusions of past reviews,
  • trying to find a new angle that has not been covered adequately in the previous reviews, and
  • incorporating new material that has inevitably accumulated since their appearance.

When searching the literature for pertinent papers and reviews, the usual rules apply:

  • be thorough,
  • use different keywords and database sources (e.g., DBLP, Google Scholar, ISI Proceedings, JSTOR Search, Medline, Scopus, Web of Science), and
  • look at who has cited past relevant papers and book chapters.

Rule 3: Take Notes While Reading

If you read the papers first, and only afterwards start writing the review, you will need a very good memory to remember who wrote what, and what your impressions and associations were while reading each single paper. My advice is, while reading, to start writing down interesting pieces of information, insights about how to organize the review, and thoughts on what to write. This way, by the time you have read the literature you selected, you will already have a rough draft of the review.

Of course, this draft will still need much rewriting, restructuring, and rethinking to obtain a text with a coherent argument [11] , but you will have avoided the danger posed by staring at a blank document. Be careful when taking notes to use quotation marks if you are provisionally copying verbatim from the literature. It is advisable then to reformulate such quotes with your own words in the final draft. It is important to be careful in noting the references already at this stage, so as to avoid misattributions. Using referencing software from the very beginning of your endeavour will save you time.

Rule 4: Choose the Type of Review You Wish to Write

After having taken notes while reading the literature, you will have a rough idea of the amount of material available for the review. This is probably a good time to decide whether to go for a mini- or a full review. Some journals are now favouring the publication of rather short reviews focusing on the last few years, with a limit on the number of words and citations. A mini-review is not necessarily a minor review: it may well attract more attention from busy readers, although it will inevitably simplify some issues and leave out some relevant material due to space limitations. A full review will have the advantage of more freedom to cover in detail the complexities of a particular scientific development, but may then be left in the pile of the very important papers “to be read” by readers with little time to spare for major monographs.

There is probably a continuum between mini- and full reviews. The same point applies to the dichotomy of descriptive vs. integrative reviews. While descriptive reviews focus on the methodology, findings, and interpretation of each reviewed study, integrative reviews attempt to find common ideas and concepts from the reviewed material [12] . A similar distinction exists between narrative and systematic reviews: while narrative reviews are qualitative, systematic reviews attempt to test a hypothesis based on the published evidence, which is gathered using a predefined protocol to reduce bias [13] , [14] . When systematic reviews analyse quantitative results in a quantitative way, they become meta-analyses. The choice between different review types will have to be made on a case-by-case basis, depending not just on the nature of the material found and the preferences of the target journal(s), but also on the time available to write the review and the number of coauthors [15] .

Rule 5: Keep the Review Focused, but Make It of Broad Interest

Whether your plan is to write a mini- or a full review, it is good advice to keep it focused 16 , 17 . Including material just for the sake of it can easily lead to reviews that are trying to do too many things at once. The need to keep a review focused can be problematic for interdisciplinary reviews, where the aim is to bridge the gap between fields [18] . If you are writing a review on, for example, how epidemiological approaches are used in modelling the spread of ideas, you may be inclined to include material from both parent fields, epidemiology and the study of cultural diffusion. This may be necessary to some extent, but in this case a focused review would only deal in detail with those studies at the interface between epidemiology and the spread of ideas.

While focus is an important feature of a successful review, this requirement has to be balanced with the need to make the review relevant to a broad audience. This square may be circled by discussing the wider implications of the reviewed topic for other disciplines.

Rule 6: Be Critical and Consistent

Reviewing the literature is not stamp collecting. A good review does not just summarize the literature, but discusses it critically, identifies methodological problems, and points out research gaps [19] . After having read a review of the literature, a reader should have a rough idea of:

  • the major achievements in the reviewed field,
  • the main areas of debate, and
  • the outstanding research questions.

It is challenging to achieve a successful review on all these fronts. A solution can be to involve a set of complementary coauthors: some people are excellent at mapping what has been achieved, some others are very good at identifying dark clouds on the horizon, and some have instead a knack at predicting where solutions are going to come from. If your journal club has exactly this sort of team, then you should definitely write a review of the literature! In addition to critical thinking, a literature review needs consistency, for example in the choice of passive vs. active voice and present vs. past tense.

Rule 7: Find a Logical Structure

Like a well-baked cake, a good review has a number of telling features: it is worth the reader's time, timely, systematic, well written, focused, and critical. It also needs a good structure. With reviews, the usual subdivision of research papers into introduction, methods, results, and discussion does not work or is rarely used. However, a general introduction of the context and, toward the end, a recapitulation of the main points covered and take-home messages make sense also in the case of reviews. For systematic reviews, there is a trend towards including information about how the literature was searched (database, keywords, time limits) [20] .

How can you organize the flow of the main body of the review so that the reader will be drawn into and guided through it? It is generally helpful to draw a conceptual scheme of the review, e.g., with mind-mapping techniques. Such diagrams can help recognize a logical way to order and link the various sections of a review [21] . This is the case not just at the writing stage, but also for readers if the diagram is included in the review as a figure. A careful selection of diagrams and figures relevant to the reviewed topic can be very helpful to structure the text too [22] .

Rule 8: Make Use of Feedback

Reviews of the literature are normally peer-reviewed in the same way as research papers, and rightly so [23] . As a rule, incorporating feedback from reviewers greatly helps improve a review draft. Having read the review with a fresh mind, reviewers may spot inaccuracies, inconsistencies, and ambiguities that had not been noticed by the writers due to rereading the typescript too many times. It is however advisable to reread the draft one more time before submission, as a last-minute correction of typos, leaps, and muddled sentences may enable the reviewers to focus on providing advice on the content rather than the form.

Feedback is vital to writing a good review, and should be sought from a variety of colleagues, so as to obtain a diversity of views on the draft. This may lead in some cases to conflicting views on the merits of the paper, and on how to improve it, but such a situation is better than the absence of feedback. A diversity of feedback perspectives on a literature review can help identify where the consensus view stands in the landscape of the current scientific understanding of an issue [24] .

Rule 9: Include Your Own Relevant Research, but Be Objective

In many cases, reviewers of the literature will have published studies relevant to the review they are writing. This could create a conflict of interest: how can reviewers report objectively on their own work [25] ? Some scientists may be overly enthusiastic about what they have published, and thus risk giving too much importance to their own findings in the review. However, bias could also occur in the other direction: some scientists may be unduly dismissive of their own achievements, so that they will tend to downplay their contribution (if any) to a field when reviewing it.

In general, a review of the literature should neither be a public relations brochure nor an exercise in competitive self-denial. If a reviewer is up to the job of producing a well-organized and methodical review, which flows well and provides a service to the readership, then it should be possible to be objective in reviewing one's own relevant findings. In reviews written by multiple authors, this may be achieved by assigning the review of the results of a coauthor to different coauthors.

Rule 10: Be Up-to-Date, but Do Not Forget Older Studies

Given the progressive acceleration in the publication of scientific papers, today's reviews of the literature need awareness not just of the overall direction and achievements of a field of inquiry, but also of the latest studies, so as not to become out-of-date before they have been published. Ideally, a literature review should not identify as a major research gap an issue that has just been addressed in a series of papers in press (the same applies, of course, to older, overlooked studies (“sleeping beauties” [26] )). This implies that literature reviewers would do well to keep an eye on electronic lists of papers in press, given that it can take months before these appear in scientific databases. Some reviews declare that they have scanned the literature up to a certain point in time, but given that peer review can be a rather lengthy process, a full search for newly appeared literature at the revision stage may be worthwhile. Assessing the contribution of papers that have just appeared is particularly challenging, because there is little perspective with which to gauge their significance and impact on further research and society.

Inevitably, new papers on the reviewed topic (including independently written literature reviews) will appear from all quarters after the review has been published, so that there may soon be the need for an updated review. But this is the nature of science [27] – [32] . I wish everybody good luck with writing a review of the literature.

Acknowledgments

Many thanks to M. Barbosa, K. Dehnen-Schmutz, T. Döring, D. Fontaneto, M. Garbelotto, O. Holdenrieder, M. Jeger, D. Lonsdale, A. MacLeod, P. Mills, M. Moslonka-Lefebvre, G. Stancanelli, P. Weisberg, and X. Xu for insights and discussions, and to P. Bourne, T. Matoni, and D. Smith for helpful comments on a previous draft.

Funding Statement

This work was funded by the French Foundation for Research on Biodiversity (FRB) through its Centre for Synthesis and Analysis of Biodiversity data (CESAB), as part of the NETSEED research project. The funders had no role in the preparation of the manuscript.

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Starting a Literature Review

If you have never completed a literature review, it can be daunting at first, or tempting to rush through without taking the steps needed to complete the review.  The main point to remember is that you are trying to summarize the current state of research in a specific area/field.  This is done by looking through different sources from different authors/research groups and then putting that information into a single document.

What can be confusing is that literature reviews will vary in length and number of references depending on the topic, field, and depth of research.  For example, a basic literature review for a graduate class might have 15-20 references while a literature review conducted for a dissertation may have 100 or more references.  It is the researcher's job to assess what is needed for their application like any other engineering project.

Finally, be sure to check out the UMD Libraries' Ethical Use of Information Guide to help you through this process!

Literature Review Steps

The basic steps of a literature review include: Search - Record - Evaluate & Analyze - Synthesize.  These can be more explicitly put into the following six steps:

1. Define your topic/research question

2. Search relevant databases, journals, and more (Search)

3. Document references found applicable to topic in a citation manager or similar (Evaluate)

4. Organize references into sub-topics (Analyze)

5. Document results through a summary of the state of research discovered via the steps above (Synthesize)

6. (Recommended) Publish your results!

Examples & Further Information

Literature Review Tips:

  • Ten Simple Rules for Literature Reviews
  • Avoiding Common Errors
  • Case Western Reserve University Engineering Literature Reviews Overview of literature review process for engineers from another engineering school.
  • Literature Reviews for Harvard Engineering Graduate Students Library resource for engineering graduate students.

Finally, check out information on systematic reviews - a growing type of scholarly review that contains more analysis as part of the review process:

  • Systematic Review by Nedelina Tchangalova Last Updated Mar 4, 2024 15373 views this year
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Faculty of Science and Engineering

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Approval from the Unit Assessor is required to enrol in this unit. In order to obtain this approval, students must have developed a broad topic for their research project that is relevant to their engineering specialisation in consultation with an academic staff member, and obtained agreement from that academic staff member to supervise their project.

Unit description

Leads students through the processes required to plan and initiate an independent research project that will make an original contribution to knowledge in their engineering discipline. Students are required to conduct a literature review on a chosen topic within their discipline and develop a research proposal.

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Students are required to work independently on their chosen research topic under the guidance of their academic supervisor.

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Unit Learning Outcomes express learning achievement in terms of what a student should know, understand and be able to do on completion of a unit. These outcomes are aligned with the graduate attributes . The unit learning outcomes and graduate attributes are also the basis of evaluating prior learning.

On completion of this unit, students should be able to:

critically review and evaluate literature relevant to a research topic in your area of engineering specialisation using a thematic approach

define appropriate aims, scope and methodology for a proposed research project to address an identified gap in existing knowledge in your area of engineering specialisation

present a coherent written proposal that describes the background, aims, rationale, methodology, and anticipated outcomes for your proposed research project

identify the resources and approvals needed to successfully complete your proposed study.

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Online (dual term), prescribed learning resources, dual term 2.

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COMMENTS

  1. Engineering: The Literature Review Process

    The Stand-Alone Literature Review A literature review may stand alone as an individual document in which the history of the topic is reported and then analyzed for trends, controversial issues, and what still needs to be studied. The review could just be a few pages for narrow topics or quite extensive with long bibliographies for in-depth reviews.

  2. Engineering Research Paper Topics for Students

    Mechanical Engineering Research Topics. Mechanical engineering is the cornerstone of innovation, driving forward advancements in technology and industry. These engineering topics for research paper explore the cutting-edge developments and challenges within the mechanical realm. 3D Printing of Biodegradable Materials for Sustainable Manufacturing

  3. Research Guides: Engineering Literature Review: Writing

    A chronological literature review presents sources in the order of their publication. The thematic literature review groups sources based on themes, theoretical concepts, and topics that the author consider important to their research. A literature review should include: an overview of the subject, issue, or theory under consideration

  4. Literature Reviews

    Literature Review Steps. The basic steps of a literature review include: Search - Record - Evaluate & Analyze - Synthesize. These can be more explicitly put into the following six steps: 1. Define your topic/research question. 2. Search relevant databases, journals, and more (Search) 3. Document references found applicable to topic in a ...

  5. How to Write a Literature Review

    Examples of literature reviews. Step 1 - Search for relevant literature. Step 2 - Evaluate and select sources. Step 3 - Identify themes, debates, and gaps. Step 4 - Outline your literature review's structure. Step 5 - Write your literature review.

  6. Literature Reviews

    1. Our library's guide to Writing a Literature Review. 2. Other helpful sites. Writing Center at UNC (Chapel Hill) -- A very good guide about lit reviews and how to write them. Literature Review: Synthesizing Multiple Sources (LSU, June 2011 but good; PDF) -- Planning, writing, and tips for revising your paper. 3.

  7. Engineering Literature Review: Meaning, Example & Structure

    An Engineering Literature Review is a comprehensive guide to engineering practices and techniques without focusing on specific topics. An Engineering Literature Review is a detailed examination and analysis of scholarly articles, books, and other resources relevant to a specific aspect of engineering.

  8. How to Write a Literature Review Section

    The literature review should not be a simple summary of previously published work, but it should be a critical analysis of the relationship between the cited literature and your work. Before Writing - Complete the following steps before writing a literature review. Identify your focus - If you are not careful, a literature review can ...

  9. What is a literature Review?

    A good literature review will consist of a summary of key sources, and is analytical and synthesizes information. Usually a literature review is organized, not however a chronological description of discoveries in your field, and explains how your research will address gaps in existing literature on a particular topic. Doing a literature review ...

  10. Research Guides: Engineering: Conducting Literature Reviews

    A good literature review will consist of a summary of key sources, and is analytical and synthesizes information. Usually a literature review is organized, not however a chronological description of discoveries in your field, and explains how your research will address gaps in existing literature on a particular topic. Doing a literature review ...

  11. Literature reviews

    Literature reviews provide a description, summary, and critical evaluation of each work. The purpose is to offer an overview of and background on significant literature published on a topic, as well as your own critical thinking on how these works comprise this background, and what questions remain unaddressed by the existing literature.

  12. Engineering: The Literature Review Process

    Your review should consists of 3 sections: The Introduction in which you tell the reader what topic you are covering and why. The Body in which you relate what your literature review found. This section needs to be grouped by the patterns or commonalities that you found during your reading and from the matrix. Your groupings could be by.

  13. Engineering Literature Review

    This guide provides an overview of the engineering literature review and its place in a research project, thesis, or dissertation. Kelvin Smith Library; Research Guides; ... skim the article to get the "big picture" to ascertain its relevancy to your topic. You don't have to understand every single idea in a text the first time you read it.

  14. Literature Review

    A literature review is important because it: Explains the background of research on a topic. Demonstrates why a topic is significant to a subject area. Discovers relationships between research studies/ideas. Identifies major themes, concepts, and researchers on a topic. Identifies critical gaps and points of disagreement.

  15. The Engineering Literature Review

    The literature review surveys and evaluates the relevant and related scholarship on a particular area of research or issue. It summarizes and evaluates the discussions and debate surrounding the topic, noting limitations, interpretations and approaches that support and establish the significance of your argument, research or methodology.

  16. Doing a lit review

    Whether you are doing a topic summary for a term paper, a state-of-the-art survey, or a full literature review for a thesis or article, there are some common expectations that your professors have for graduate student work. They are not looking for you to simply describe some papers that you have read on the topic, one after the other. What ...

  17. Literature Reviews in Engineering

    The purpose of a literature review is to familiarize yourself with existing research on a topic. You will acquire knowledge about your topic, and identify gaps that you can explore with your own research. The following resources are designed to guide you in conducting a literature review in a structured and strategic way.

  18. Researching and Writing Literature Reviews

    A literature review is a survey of scholarly sources on a specific topic. Through a literature review, a researcher will identify related research that has been accomplished, and may explore appropriate methodology for that research. ... Structural Optimization in Civil Engineering: a Literature Review, by Linfeng Mei and Qian Wang. Buildings ...

  19. Systematic Literature Reviews in Engineering Education and Other

    This article is primarily a narrative review of the literature on conducting systematic reviews. Methods are adapted to engineering education and similar developing interdisciplinary fields. To offer concrete, pertinent examples, we also conducted a systematic review of systematic review articles published on engineering education topics since ...

  20. Experiential learning in engineering education: A systematic literature

    This systematic literature review examines engineering curricula that have introduced and utilized experiential learning in engineering undergraduate programs as a response to the demands and realities (viewed broadly) of the economy and society, as published in major engineering education journals and other databases in the last 25 years ...

  21. A scoping review of engineering education systematic reviews

    Although the method originated in the medical sciences, it has since been adapted to address disciplines as disparate as public policy and software engineering. Simply put, an SLR is a formalized application of the literature review, treating the familiar process of searching the literature and writing a review paper as an experiment unto itself.

  22. A hybrid particle swarm optimization algorithm for solving engineering

    Abstract. To overcome the disadvantages of premature convergence and easy trapping into local optimum solutions, this paper proposes an improved particle swarm optimization algorithm (named NDWPSO ...

  23. Full article: Engineering education 5.0: a systematic literature review

    Engineering education 5.0: a systematic literature review on competence-based education in the industrial engineering and management discipline. Corina Pacher a Life Long Learning, ... (Citation 2021) developed a taxonomy consisting of 467 concepts and 32 higher-level topics for implementing management engineering topics in existing curricula ...

  24. Ten Simple Rules for Writing a Literature Review

    The topic must at least be: interesting to you (ideally, you should have come across a series of recent papers related to your line of work that call for a critical summary), an important aspect of the field (so that many readers will be interested in the review and there will be enough material to write it), and.

  25. Applied Sciences

    The literature review also identified the categories of research studies and the methodologies used to date for maritime studies in the field of seafarers' education and training for MASS (RQ2). In this way, this article provides a concise summary of the advances in the field of seafarer education and training for MASS through academic ...

  26. Literature Reviews

    What can be confusing is that literature reviews will vary in length and number of references depending on the topic, field, and depth of research. For example, a basic literature review for a graduate class might have 15-20 references while a literature review conducted for a dissertation may have 100 or more references.

  27. ENGN4009

    This professional orientated thesis unit guides students through the processes required to plan and initiate an independent research project, in conjunction with an industry partner, that will make an original contribution to knowledge in their engineering discipline. Students are required to conduct a literature review on a chosen topic within their discipline, develop a research proposal and ...

  28. The Low-Carbon Transition of Energy Systems: A Bibliometric Review from

    As a major solution to climate change, the low-carbon transition of energy systems has received growing attention in the past decade. This paper presents a bibliometric review of the literature on the low-carbon transition of energy systems from an engineering management perspective. First, the definition and boundaries of the energy system transition are clarified, covering transformation of ...

  29. ENGN4001

    Leads students through the processes required to plan and initiate an independent research project that will make an original contribution to knowledge in their engineering discipline. Students are required to conduct a literature review on a chosen topic within their discipline and develop a research proposal.