Outlined on this page are the 4 main steps to a successful literature search. Additional advice and support is always available from your Librarians, see our contact details on the home page. You may also find the handouts and links below useful.
Spending a small amount of time thinking about your search strategy will really help you when finding information for your assignments. They key points to a good search strategy are:
You'll find a few book chapters that can help you when it comes to developing your search strategy on these pages.
There is a wide range of information you may like to include in your assignments. This includes:
Getting your keywords right is a very important part of the search process, the more literature you read on your topic the more keywords and key terms you will come across. At the beginning of your search you may only have a few keywords, with these you can conduct a scoping search (a brief, broad search) to get an overview of how much literature there is on your topic. Based on your results you can then refine your keywords and rerun your search.
Correct combination of your keywords using boolean operators (AND/OR/NOT) will be important. We have created a research record form to help you to think about keywords for your search.
NB: Some of our databases will also have Subject Headings/Thesaurus headings. For example Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) in MEDLINE. Using subject heading searches is an advanced way of searching for literature and can provide a useful, focused set of results. Each database will have a help page with further details.
Critically appraising your sources is a crucial element of any literature search and a question we get asked a lot. How do you know if your sources are:
There are a number of excellent books, book chapters and websites that can help you when it comes to critically appraising your sources. You'll find a few on these pages.