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A literature search is a systematic and comprehensive search for information. This information will inform, underpin and /or shape your research.
A literature search will enable you to find out what has already been written in your subject area and identify the main trends.
The information may be found in books, journal articles, reports, case studies, policy documents, conference proceedings etc.
Remember full text is often reliant on paid subscriptions - full text articles are not always freely available.
On this page you will find out:
Other related information and where it is:
Online tutorials and helpsheets for the individual databases are available from the drop down menu underneath the Finding Journal Articles and Literature Searching tab
SOME SEARCH TIPS:
It is useful to identify and list the key words and concepts you are interested in. Be aware of:
Break your topic or research question into its component parts and search for each separately.
Search using each term separately and look at the number of results to see which are most commonly used.
Do this for each part or concept within your topic of interest or research question. This gives you more flexibility in the way you can combine concepts together at a later stage.
Search using each term separately and look at the number of results to see which are most commonly used. You can later combine these using OR to include articles that contain any of the keywords, for a broad search. This is useful for synonyms, or terms that mean the same or similar.
e.g. X OR Y OR Z retrieves results which have either term X or term Y or term Z in.
Keywords that broaden or narrow down your search. Combine these using AND to search for articles which include all terms to focus/narrow a search.
e.g. Q AND R AND S retrieves results which contain all three terms Q, R and S.
e.g American English variations. If you are focusing on Chinese medicine, you need to ensure you identify language and spelling variations too.
For more detailed advice and tips use the Search Tips for Complementary Health Students help sheet. The CMH4442 Handout on PICO, SPICE and keywords may help you think about and create a list to inform your search strategy. Books on research and literature reviews also explain the process of literature searching in detail.
Critical appraisal is the process of evaluating and interpreting evidence by systematically considering its validity, results and relevance. You will need to use your critical appraisal skills when identifying and choosing resources to use for your assignments and dissertation. The following resources should provide a useful introduction to this process: