11.4.1 Influential literature analysis
Hoepner & McMillan (2009) develop the new concept of Influential Literature Analysis (ILA), using of Publish or Perish to access Google Scholar data. Influential Literature Analysis (ILA) is a four step approach, which the authors claim improves upon existing methods to synthesize research areas. The first step ranks the candidate studies according to their influence and selects the most influential ones to be synthesized. Of course this step is facilitated enormously by Publish or Perish. The second and third steps respectively characterize and categorize the most influential studies. The last step then investigates the (sometimes conflicting) results and interpretations offered by influential studies in depth.
The authors see as the main advantage of ILA that it outsources the assessment of articles to the wider community of researchers by using their average judgment embedded in citations. This contrast with existing approaches in which reviewers would assess the candidate articles themselves. According to the authors, this process therefore offers reviewers a much needed valid and predominantly author independent mean to select studies. Although I am not entirely comfortable to outsource this type of judgment completely, there is no doubt that this process might help many PhD students and young researchers to avoid entering too many dead alleys.