Communications of the Association for Information Systems


The “standing on the shoulders of giants” metaphor is often used to acknowledge the work of others when undertaking research and, in particular, stresses the importance of literature reviews in scientific inquiry. Though the significance of literature reviews has never been in doubt, researchers, especially novice researchers, still struggle with developing effective strategies for reviewing literature. An important reason for this difficulty is the rapidly increasing number of potentially relevant publications—not all of which necessarily add value to a literature review. As such, avoiding standing on the shoulders of dwarfs literature search emerges as a major issue in crafting an effective literature review. In this paper, we discuss challenges of literature searches in the increasingly dynamic context of information systems (IS) research and make recommendations for how to deal with them. We present practical guidelines and a checklist to help researchers with planning and organizing their literature searches.