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Searching the literature

A guide for staff and students undertaking a thorough literature review

Record your search

  • Create a document listing all the keywords and subject headings you need for your search. 

  • Save your search strategy from each database – use the workspace in each database to save your final search.  Or simply print it out.

  • You’ll find it helpful to keep a simple spreadsheet recording the databases you have searched. Make a note of the date, the database searched, which interface you used (eg EBSCO), the number of hits and the number of relevant results found.

Managing your references

It is worth investing time in learning to use reference management software.  You can collect references from a wide variety of sources and keep them in one place. 

  • Download references from databases or catalogues 
  • Add references manually
  • Insert references in your writing formatted in your chosen style (e.g. Harvard, APA 6th, Chicago) 
  • Reformat references if your change style e.g. to submit to a journal 
  • Annotate your references and attach the full text of articles to the records.

Reference management software

There are many different reference managers available. Lancaster University provides access to recent versions of:

  • EndNote
  • EndNote Web / EndNote online

Consult our referencing and reference manager guidance for more details on how to access and use these. 

Training and development workshops