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Pharmacy research project guidance: Doing your Literature Search

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:

Doing a literature-based project or systematic review?

If you are doing a literature-based project then constructing your literature search (choice of search words, search strategy and selection of appropriate databases) will be a key part of your project and you should include this in the methodology section of your report. See the page on doing a systematic literature search for more guidance:

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 this subject. 

Drug databases
Key databases for finding journal articles and systematic reviews

Other useful resources

These specialist sources may be useful for final year projects.

Literature searching guidance

This series of three videos (available via the tabs in this box) cover:

  • Intro to literature searching including tips on getting started
  • Finding journal articles using Summon and Web of Science, and search techniques to use to create a comprehensive search
  • Searching PubMed- basic, advanced and MeSH searching tips

You will need to login using your University email address and password to view the videos.

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

Literature search plan template and example

Use the following documents to help you plan your literature search to make it as comprehensive as possible. 

This video covers using Summon and Web of Science to find journal articles and the search techniques to use to create a comprehensive search

This video covers searching PubMed - basic, advanced and MeSH searching tips.

Doing a systematic review

An introduction to planning your systematic review.

You will need to login using your University email address and password to view the videos.

See also our detailed guide to doing a systematic review:

This video covers the first four steps in doing a systematic review, including creating a protocol and searching for literature.

This video covers the fifth and sixth steps in doing a systematic review. It focuses on using Desktop EndNote to manage references and screening the literature.

The final in a series of four videos on systematic reviews which covers writing it up.

Accessing online Library resources

If you are on campus you will be able to access most e-journals and e-books, and some databases, without entering a username and password because your IP address identifies you as being at the University of Reading.

For any that require a login, see the Off-campus tab.

Terms of Use

When you use our e-resources you are agreeing to our Terms of Use. Please take a moment to look at these by following the link below:

When you are off-campus you will need to login to identify yourself as a member of the University of Reading to gain access to our protected databases, e-books and e-journals. 

Your login details

You login in the same way as for Blackboard - via Microsoft. Just enter your University username followed by @student.reading.ac.uk (e.g. ab123456@student.reading.ac.uk) and your password. If this is the first time you have logged in via this method when off-campus you will be asked to complete a Multi-Factor Authentication. For more information see:

Getting to the login page...

  • For most resources, if you follow a link from our website or catalogues your login will be picked up automatically or you will be prompted to login straightaway. 
  • If you access resources via another route you will need to look for a login option once you reach the resource you are trying to access. Look for an institutional or shibboleth login option and pick 'University of Reading' from a list of institutions. This will then pick up your login or prompt you to login. For more information about institutional login, please see the link below:
Logging in to Library resources

Watch this short video on how you login to use Library resources.

If you are unable to view this video on YouTube it is also available on YuJa - view the Logging in to the Library video on YuJa (University username and password required)

Inter-library loans

The ILL service can obtain a wide range of academic books, journals, and conference proceedings. Because of the costs involved it is meant only for material which is essential to your studies or research.

For more information see our Inter-Library Loans webpages:

Contact me for 1-1 help with your literature search

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Jackie Skinner
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Contact:
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 term-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 Tuesdays 11:00-12:00.
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