Literature Search

Literature Search


A Literature Search is a systematic search and retrieval of information and evaluation of relevant material for your dissertation. While you will have searched for books, journal articles, and other types of information for your assignments, a literature search for your dissertation should be more comprehensive: your list of references will be more extensive, and you should expect to get material from other libraries (via the Document Supply Service or in person) in order to ensure that you have read as widely as possible on your topic.

Here are a few tips for undertaking a successful literature search:

  1. Deciding on your topic: Once you have thought of a general subject for your dissertation, consider doing a basic, preliminary search for information in order to help devise a more specific topic. Reading some published literature might help to give you some ideas for your own project.
  2. Planning your search: Analyse your topic in detail, write down a list of keywords that you can keep referring to, and make a list of which databases, library catalogues, internet gateways, etc. you will search.
  3. Searching systematically: Keep notes of which databases you have searched (with dates), how you searched them (e.g. which keywords you used), and the kind and quality of information you have found in each. Approaching a search systematically in this way will save you from unnecessarily repeating things you have already done, or looking again in sources that do not have useful information. Build up your list of references as you go along - this will save you a lot of time in the long run.
  4. Reviewing the material: Read the material you have found and think critically about how you can use it in your dissertation. If you are not finding the right kind of material - or are finding too much or too little - go back a couple of steps and think about whether you need to revise your topic.
  5. Talking with your academic liaison librarian: Make an appointment with Rachel - she can help you to identify sources of information and assist you in your search.


Remember - it can take up to 2 weeks for a loan through the Document Supply Service to arrive, so don't leave your searching until the last minute!

See the Searching Techniques page of this Guide for additional tips on finding information.

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