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 help you to find out what has already been written in your subject area and identify the main trends.
The information could be found in books, journal articles, reports, guidelines, case studies, policy documents, conference proceedings etc.
To do a full literature search you will need to use the recommended nursing academic journal databases. Online tutorials and help sheets for using the individual databases are also available. You also might need to look at NICE guidelines, the RCN, RCM, WHO and other official and professional organisations.
Remember, you must always be logged into MyUniHub first. That is how the databases know that you are from Middlesex University and that you don't have to pay!
Google Scholar is useful for citation searching (using sources cited in articles to lead to other sources) as it includes hyperlinks directly to cited sources. However, start with the academic journal databases that we subscribe to as in most cases you will get straight into the full-text.
More information about citation searching can be found on the Open University website.
Watch our videos on the right about Literature Searching and why keywords are so important!
Before you start searching:
It is useful to identify and list the key words and concepts you are interested in. This should include:
Once you start searching:
Combining searches with 'and' and 'or'
e.g. X OR Y OR Z retrieves results which have either term X or term Y or term Z.
e.g. Q AND R AND S retrieves results which contain all three terms Q, R and S.
For more detailed advice and tips use the Search Tips for Midwifery Students help sheet. Books on research and literature reviews also explain the process of literature searching in detail.
The link below takes you to a glossary which provides explanations of words and terms you may come across when using the library web pages and resources to complete your research.
This website is about why testing treatments rigorously is important and what YOU can do to promote better research for better health care.
Helpsheets and worksheets from literature searching sessions