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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.

Where can I find an overview of my topic?

If you need some definitions of key words, or an overview of the area in which you are working, try looking at our online dictionaries, encyclopedias and other reference sources. You may also find a list of key encyclopedias and reference sources on your relevant subject guide.

Where can I find books?

a pile of books

Use the Enterprise catalogue to:

  • find books on your topic - as you are searching just the titles of books on Enterprise, you may need to make your search more general to find books with relevant chapters
  • check if we have a specific journal (in print or online)

Search Enterprise now using the box below:

Where can I find journal articles?

Search the Summon discovery service to find girl in library looking for articles

  • online journal articles,
  • book chapters,
  • newspaper articles
  • and many other types of information.

The results are limited to items covered by Library subscriptions, so you should be able to access everything you find.

Search Summon now using the box below:

Why should I use databases?

If you need to perform a thorough literature search, for instance if you are starting your PhD, then you will need to search databases relating to your subject. These allow you to run very precise searches and enable you to extend your search to find publications beyond our collections.

Databases will give you references to journal articles, book chapters, books, and other types of publication. Some will give you full-text. Some databases will cover different types of materials, others will give access to only one type e.g. Index to theses. As the subject and journal coverage of these databases varies, you will need to search more than one database to ensure you don't miss useful references.

Can I use Google or other search engines?

Google is not recommended for literature searching because you can't be sure of the quality and reliability of the information you find. 

Instead try searching Google Scholar which only indexes academic websites. Scholar also covers institutional repositories, such as the University's own CentAUR repository, which can give you full-text articles written by academics at that institution. You can also set up your preferences on Google Scholar to show you when the full-text is available to you via our subscriptions.

Why should I use professional bodies and scholarly societies?

Professional bodies and scholarly societies can be a useful source of information on current hot topics and research in progress. As a student, you may also be able to join at a reduced fee, giving you access to their library and information resources. Relevant bodies will be listed in the Useful websites for your subject.