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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.

Plan your search

Before you start your literature search it is a good idea to spend five minutes thinking about your subject:

  • what are the key words defining your topic?
  • are there any alternative words you should use to ensure you don't miss something relevant?
  • what words would the researchers in your field use?

Consider your search techniques

When searching your subject databases you will need to use some specific search techniques to ensure that you find all the relevant references. These include:

  • using the search operators (AND, OR) to combine your search words
  • using brackets to nest alternative words in your search statement
  • using truncation symbols and wildcards to find alternative word endings and spellings.

Guidance on effective database searching

For further advice on planning your search, and search techniques, check our guide on effective database searching.