This guide is aimed at students and staff undertaking a through review of the literature, perhaps as part of a dissertation. There is also advice for those undertaking the literature search for a systematic review. While many of the examples are drawn from health, medicine and psychology, the techniques described will be relevant for resarchers across the University.
The tabs at the top of the guide take you to more detailed information.
Please use this guide alongside the guide for your particular subject area.
If you don't find the information you need contact your Subject Librarian.
The literature search process
Your literature search will probably have the following phases:
- Formulating the search topic and creating an initial search strategy
- Refining the search, eg deciding on date limits or countries on which to focus
- Establishing useful keywords and thesaurus terms
- Identifying the journal databases to use
- Carrying out the initial search
- Reviewing your results and perhaps repeating the search
- If appropriate, searching for additional material such as market reports, newspaper articles, standards and patents, legislation and official publications, unpublished material, experts etc.
- Evaluating your results
- Throughout you should record what you have done and save your results
- Keeping up-to-date with work on your topic as your research proceeds.
There is guidance on each of these phases in the tabs in this guide.
Searching the literature: a talk
There is a talk about literature searching available. It takes about an hour to listen to the full presentation, but you can select the sections of most interest to you.