Before conducting new research with your audiences, it pays to ask, “Has anyone else studied the same issues before?” The answer is often yes, if you know what to look for and how to relate it to your own organization’s opportunities. At Slover Linett, we often examine “secondary sources”—existing data, studies, and reports from both academic and practitioner sources—and write literature review reports.
Literature reviews do several valuable things. They help prevent us from reinventing the wheel in cases where the relevant data already exists. They guide the new “primary” research that we conduct with your audiences (interviews, surveys, etc.). Most importantly, they provide a conceptual and empirical framework for understanding your organization’s own initiative, allowing your team to be more confident and creative as you proceed.
Like peer best-practices profiling, literature reviews are ideally conducted at the beginning of the research process, to inform what comes next. They’re especially useful in situations where your organization is venturing into new territory and needs to quickly gain an understanding of the theories and practices that operate in that territory. It’s also helpful in bringing colleagues from around the organization together around a shared picture of the issues at hand, and in demonstrating to funders that you’ve done your homework.
Like you, we keep up with the literature on issues and trends in the performing arts, museums, and higher education. We also have the academic research and analysis skills to create a literature review report that’s closely, strategically tailored to your questions and your project. Our methods differ with each engagement; the common denominators are depth, usefulness, and readability.