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Literature Searching

Some basics on finding relevant articles.

What is literature searching?

Searching for literature can seem like a trial and error process. A consistent, structured search can save your time. As you progresses and refine the search, the history of search can help you improve the relevancy of your search results.

At times, searching for articles can be easy and quick while at other times, it is not as easy! Both processes require some basic skills which are explained in this guide with examples.

A 10 step literature search process for successful literature search

  1. Think about your research question. 
    • In most cases, your research question can be obtained from the assignment topic.
  2. Identify the key concepts of your research questions
  3. Think about alternative terms or synonyms of the identified concepts
  4. Choose the most appropriate databases to search
  5. Combine your search terms using boolean operator
  6. Consider any limits that you want to apply
  7. Run your search and review your results
  8. Adapt your search strategy, if necessary
  9. Save your results and search strategy
  10. Retrieve your materials.

Watson, Mandy. (2020). How to undertake a literature search: a step-by-step guide. British Journal of Nursing (Mark Allen Publishing)29(7), 431–435.

A realistic process

Another process, as seen below, is a more realistic view of the search process.

A realistic searching process