Literature searching

Preparing and planning your search

The key to your literature review will be a literature search. Translating a question or an assignment, into a search strategy or statement is an important first step in tracking down the information you need. Developing a search strategy starts by you thinking about the kinds of words related to your topic that you might expect to find in books or in journal articles. You can use a good search statement to search a variety of sources, including databases and library catalogues.

Before starting your review, you will need to identify library resources to help you with your search. Your search will be more comprehensive than searching your favourite search engine.

This Resources Evaluation tutorial called ‘Beyond Google’ will explain why.

You will need your university username and password. You do not need to connect your LinkedIn account.

LinkedIn Learning
LinkedIn Learning tutorial

Places to start

The library catalogue WebCat will enable you to find both print and electronic books, journal articles, reports, dissertations, etc.

For further WebCat information please see http://library.soton.ac.uk/tutorials/webcat

Use our discovery tool DelphiS to look for journal articles on your topic. DelphiS will search many databases and will give you an overview of the published literature in your subject. 

For further information about DelphiS please see http://library.soton.ac.uk/delphis/advanced

Follow the Identify Resources link below to find out about resources available for your subject and watch the LinkedIn Learning tutorial that describes the reasons and process for searching a database.

The Search Strategies tutorial is essential viewing for understanding how to structure a search. It will introduce Boolean Operators and truncation.

In the Advanced Search Strategies section learn how some databases use subject headings to code the contents.

You will find lots of database help tutorials available at http://library.soton.ac.uk/sash/workshops/online-training

The next section covers evaluating the resources you have found.

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