Conducting the Literature Review

Reviewing academic literature is essential for understanding a research topic, identifying gaps, and shaping research design. A thorough literature review goes beyond summarizing findings; it integrates and critiques existing research, highlighting key insights and areas of agreement and disagreement (American Psychological Association, 2021).

Approaching literature reviews with an equity lens contextualizes findings and addresses biases, making research more inclusive and impactful across diverse communities. For instance, terms like “professionalism” can perpetuate biases against marginalized groups (Ruzycki & Ahmed, 2022).

To enhance inclusivity, consider expanding search criteria beyond traditional sources to include blogs, technical reports, and various forms of media. Engaging in citational justice practices, such as citing research from underrepresented voices, helps counteract exclusionary publishing practices (Ahmed et al., 2022; Kumar & Karusala, 2021).

Each type of literature review (systematic, scoping, meta-analytic) follows specific criteria, influencing the review’s quality and methodology—critical considerations akin to empirical studies (Grant & Booth, 2009).

Strategies for Conducting Literature Reviews

Literature Search

Identify search terms (inclusion and exclusion criteria) using keywords that represent situational contexts and usage (e.g., excluding contexts that have been connected with the exclusion and oppression of individuals).

Identify studies published in journals and conference proceedings that are reflective of the population groups that are included in the planned study. Aim for high-quality journals and conferences, and recognize that studies focused on marginalized groups have faced challenges being accepted for publication (Murray et al., 2018).

When literature cannot be found for marginalized groups in computing, consider searching in closely related fields (STEM) or education more generally to gain insight.

Engage in practices that identify researchers who are marginalized within the community to help ensure their research findings and voices are present in the literature review (Ahmed et al, 2022; Kumar & Karusala, 2021; University of Maryland Libraries, 2023).

Assessing Inclusion and Exclusion Criteria

Follow a structured and consistent approach for reviewing the literature. 

Evaluate and connect relevant research to the planned study through a critical lens. This includes critically examining the contexts of the studies.

 In each study reviewed, consider the power dynamics between the researcher(s), staff, and the participant(s) and how that may have impacted the results.

Additional Resources


Ahmed, S. I., Amrute, S., Bardzell, J., Bardzell, S., Bidwell, N., Dillahunt, T., … & Wong-Villacrés, M. (2022). Citational justice and the politics of knowledge production. interactions, 29(5), 78-82.

American Psychological Association. (2021). Journal Article Reporting Standards (JARS). Retrieved from

Grant, M. J., & Booth, A. (2009). A typology of reviews: An analysis of 14 review types and associated methodologies. Health Information and Libraries Journal, 26(2), 91–108.

Kumar, N., & Karusala, N. (2021, May). Braving citational justice in human-computer interaction. In Extended Abstracts of the 2021 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (pp. 1-9).

Marshall, S. L., & Salter, A. O. (2022). Moving beyond the boilerplate: Reflections on equity‐centered reviewing for granting organizations. Science Education, 106(5), 1264-1282.

Murray, D., Siler, K., Lariviére, V., Chan, W. M., Collings, A. M., Raymond, J., & Sugimoto, C. R. (2018). Gender and international diversity improves equity in peer review. BioRxiv, 400515.

Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada. (2022). Guidelines on the assessment of contributions to research, training and mentoring. Retrieved from

Ruzycki, S. M., & Ahmed, S. B. (2022). Equity, diversity and inclusion are foundational research skills. Nature Human Behaviour, 6(7), 910–912.

Scantlebury, K. (2002). A snake in the nest or in a snake’s nest: What counts as peer review for a female science educator in a chemistry department?. Research in Science Education, 32, 157-162.

University of Maryland Libraries. (2023). Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Research. Retrieved September 2, 2023 from