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Literature searching

A guide to finding articles, books and other materials on your subject, and managing the useful references you find.

Why do a literature search?

A literature search can vary from a quick search for a few resources to use in an essay to a comprehensive search for all the resources relevant to a PhD dissertation. It involves finding out what other work has already been done in your field.

For a dissertation or project it will help to shape your research by:

  • outlining the intellectual progress of research in your field to date
  • establishing whether your research is original
  • suggesting a narrow and defined scope for your study
  • putting your work into a wider context
  • suggesting possible methodological approaches

Explore the pages in menu on the left for tips on planning and doing your literature search and guidance on what to do with the references you find.

If you have been asked specifically to do a literature review, see the guidance on the left side of the page under the menu. 

Video guides to literature searching

Watch this short playlist of two videos for an introduction to literature searching and the techniques to use.

If you are unable to view these videos on YouTube they are also available on YuJa or Stream (University username and password required):

Contact your Academic Liaison Librarian for help with literature searching

Academic Liaison Team

Your Academic Liaison Librarian is an expert on finding and using information sources. They will know about the sources for finding information on your topic. This includes databases and webpages relevant to your subject, and other external resources. 

Ask your librarian for support with:

  • finding reliable information sources
  • searching specific databases
  • creating a comprehensive literature search
  • referencing sources correctly including finding bibliographic details
  • using reference management tools - Endnote and Mendeley
  • citing less common sources

...and any other research based queries - if they can't help, they will know who can!