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This post is note to self and subject for future revision as I grow wiser as a researcher.

Step 1: Find researches that fit the topic

- Research article on the subject

1.1. Google Scholar: Enter your keywords

E.g., In my case, I entered "willingness to pay" OR "WTP" + "education". Note that education is public good. You can replace "education" with "heath" or "public services" to see how researchers on the other fields measure WTP

Other resource to find thesis on the topic

- EBSCO Open Dissertations -

- Open Access Dissertations and Theses -

- Stanford SearchWorks -

- OpenThesis -

1.2. Expand your search scope.

Method 1:

Scite: Once you find some intersting articles with impact (look at the number of citations!). Click on the article and find its DOI.

Paste it in Scite. Find articles supporting/ mentioning/ contrasting to the articles.

An alternative can be ConnectedPapers for prior and related works. I personally prefer Scite for its simplicity.

Method 2: Find article on the reference list

This is useful when you do literature review on the background of the topics. Get the DOI of relevant article

Step 2: Manage the files

- Download Pdfs using Scihub or Research gate or even Google. Those of you who study oversea, you can search on your University's Library Portal.

- Drag the file in your Mendeley desktop or Endnote. I prefer Mendeley for user-friendliness. To learn how to use Mendeley. From Mendeley, you can start organize, highlight, and take notes.

Step 3: Logging and catalogue using Excel

This is the most important step if you want meaningful findings.

1. I think Excel is doing pretty good job of managing journal. I started the habit of logging when I was in my MPA. After graduation, I picked up new tips along the way. You can see my revised template below. This version is from Graduate Coach with the few alternations.

Download XLSX • 116KB

2. Ok, let's go from tab to tab

- Tab 1 - Literature: You will enter information you find in this tab. It might be hideous at first. But trust me you need a second brain to load everything you read or you will lose it. No one can remember everything. Some sections already have options for you to choose. Don't overtype in those.

- Tab 2 - Construct items. If you are building a regression model, you will have to pick independent variables for it. How to know variables should you include? First step is to refer to past journals. Once you read any articles, find independent variables used by authors and put them into this tab. Remember to note author name and year (in APA format) for future reference.

- Tab 3 - Theoretical models: Once you see a different framework used in the journal, capture and paste it here for future reference. Remember to note its source.

- Tab 4 - Measure and Scaling: If the paper used new measurement or scale for its research, capture, paste, and note down the source.

- Tab 5 - Questionnaire: Copy and Paste research questionnaire if shared by authors.

- Tab 6 - Summary: You don't need to do anything with the tab. It automatically runs for you (if you enter everything correctly)

Once you finish the tasks, you will have an overview of existing literature on your research of interest. The Excel file will keep this overview safe for the next steps!

Further readings:

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