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Pharmacology Research Project Guidance: Doing your Literature Search

Help, resources and links to guide you through your research project.

The aim of your literature search is to find relevant publications to enable you to gain an understanding of the area you are working in, and to identify a knowledge gap which your project can address. You should concentrate on finding peer-reviewed journal articles, but these can be supplemented with information from books. Websites should be used with caution. All the literature you use should be cited and referenced following the guidance given on the 'Referencing' page in this guide:

What are journal articles and how do I find them?

Journal articles are usually short papers on specific topics. They are published in issues or parts of journals (also called periodicals) which appear regularly. Use articles to find:

  • up-to-date research in your subject
  • reviews of developments in your subject - these review articles include extensive lists of references
Finding journal articles

You can find journal articles via our Summon discovery service or online databases.

Search Summon

Search the Summon discovery service using the box below to find full-text journal articles available via the Library. Search using topic words or use it to find out if we have access to a specific article by searching for the article title.

Search databases covering your subject

You should also search relevant databases to widen your search. See the lists below of key and additional databases. They will give you references to journal articles and other publications - they may also give you the full-text of the article. They are not limited to the Library's journal subscriptions, so you may need to use the inter-library loans service to get hold of some articles.

If you are doing a lab-based project your should at least search Web of Science. If you are doing a literature-based project you will need to search all which are relevant to your topic.  

Key databases

These are the major resources for finding literature and information in Pharmacy. 

Drug databases
Key databases for finding journal articles and systematic reviews

Other useful resources

These specialist sources may be useful for some topics.

Doing a literature search

This short playlist shows you how to prepare for and perform a literature search. The first video introduces literature searches and their role. The second video covers using the search operators AND and OR to create a search statement, and explains the role of wildcards and truncation in constructing a comprehensive search. 

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

We also have the following generic guide to literature searching and searching databases:

Planning your own search

Use the template below to help plan out your own literature search - identifying keywords and synonyms. There's also an example to help guide you and an example of adapting a search for different databases.

Getting items not held at Reading

Map of the south of the UKOur Inter-Library Loans service can get articles, books and other publications not held at Reading from other libraries (usually from the British Library).

For more information see our webpages:

Contact me for 1-1 help with your literature search

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Jackie Skinner
Book an appointment
Please contact me if you have a query about literature searching, accessing resources, referencing or using EndNote/Mendeley.

Use the buttons above to email me or make an appointment (in person or online).
Quick query in semester-time? Come along to my weekly drop-in on Tuesdays 13:00-14:00 in Harry Nursten Room 2-64. I am also usually on the Study Advice and Academic Liaison Desk on the Ground Floor of the Library on semester-time Tuesdays 11:00-12:00.