Conducting your literature search


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Library Research Services workshop, 2014/15

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  • It is assumed that all research will include some type of literature review which will require you to be able to search the literature effectively.
  • Demo:
    Getting started page
    Researchers pages – contact details
  • DEMO location of form:

    What databases did you search?
    Any issues? Any limits or search options that worked well?
    Tips or tricks to share?
  • As a researcher you will need to try out a variety of keywords on a number of different literature databases and resources. You may find it helpful to document your search plan and any adjustments you make, as it’s easy to forget where and how you searched. Remember you may need to repeat your searches or take them in a different direction at a later date.
  • If you are getting too many results then your keywords may be too general or too common.

    You can focus your search by using phrase searching or applying limits, such as date of publication or type of publication.

    Some databases use specialist indexing and it can be helpful to find and use the index terms most appropriate to your research. For example, in the medical database Medline if I search for the keyword cold it would find the medical condition and cold temperatures. But if I search on the medical subject heading or index term ‘common cold’ then it will only find items relating to the medical condition.

    > Using index terms
  • If you are getting too few results then your keywords may be too specific.

    To expand your search you could try including synonyms. For example, if I was interested in studies from the UK I would search on UK or United Kingdom or Great Britain or Britain or England or Scotland or Wales or Northern Ireland.

    You could also use truncation symbols and wild cards to find different word endings or spellings. Check the database help screens to see if it allows you to use truncation or wild cards.

    When you are using several keywords at once it may be that one of the keywords is the problem. The best way to check this is to search the databases one term at a time.

    >Search history/using one term at a time
  • Try your refined search
  • There is no optimum number of references you should be citing in your research. It will vary depending on your research area and the amount of material already published on the subject.

    If you are a PhD student we would recommend discussing your bibliography with your supervisor if you are worried about the number of references you are using.

    We also recommend using a system to manage your references. There are a number of bibliographic software packages that can help you with this.
  • DEMO
    Full-time researchers get a quota of twenty five document supply requests per year. Distance learning and part-time researchers get a quota of thirty five document supply requests a year, as this includes requests for photocopies of items held in print in the library.
    A journal article or conference paper will cost you one of your quota. Books and thesis requests will cost you more of your quota.
    To place a document supply request you will need to login to your library account and click the document supply link.
    For more information on how to place a request and about quotas see the library document supply webpages.

    You can find books we have in the library by using the search box on the library homepage. If you want to find other books relevant to your research then you might want to search Copac, Google Books or other specialist resources.
    For books we don’t have you can put in a document supply request and we will try to borrow the book from the British Library or elsewhere.
    We are also part of the Sconul Access scheme which lets you join, and borrow books from, other University libraries. As a researcher you can also apply directly to use the British Library.

    Journal article
    If you are searching for journal articles using literature databases provided by the library then you can check to see if we have access to articles by using the Leicester e-Link button. If you are using free resources such as PubMed or Google Scholar, then you may need to check if we have access by searching for the article on the library homepage.
    Remember older journals and some specialist journals may only be available in print. You can check if we have the print copy of a journal by searching for the title of the journal on the library homepage.
    If we don’t have a journal article you need then you can put in a document supply request and we will try to obtain a copy for you.

    Conference papers
    Conference papers can be tricky to find as they might be published as conference papers, as articles within journals or as part of a book.
    See our guide to finding conference papers for more information.
    If we don’t have a conference paper you need then you can put in a document supply request and we will try to obtain a copy for you.

  • Our telephone
    Alternative email addresses STEM/LASS
    Our website
    Afternoon chat ‘Help’ 2-4pm PGR team
  • Conducting your literature search

    1. 1. Conducting your literature search
    2. 2. Outcomes from today Locate useful search options on information databases relevant to you. Apply your literature search plan. Evaluate your search results. Review your literature search plan as appropriate.
    3. 3. Get started with databases Subject page Web of Scopus Science Try your search plan Use the search summary form
    4. 4. Refining your search Databases Keywords Search Plan Adjust Search
    5. 5. Too many results focus your search Keywords phrases index terms limits
    6. 6. Too few results expand your search Keywords synonyms truncation one term at a time
    7. 7. Get started with databases Subject page Web of Scopus Science Try your refined search plan Use the search summary form
    8. 8. Citations Bibliography How many? Reference Management
    9. 9. Research Document Supply Library account Books, journals, theses, conference papers
    10. 10. Contact Us T: 0116 252 2018 E: E: @gsreadingroom Help Graduate School Reading Room