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Literature Reviews: Searching the literature

An introduction to the Literature Review process and resources to help you to get started.

Strategies and tips for an effective and comprehensive literature search

Maximise the quality, scope and appropriateness of the literature you end up reviewing.

Commencing a search:

  • Determine key concepts and issues surrounding them.
  • Establish terminology so you can develop lists of key words and synonyms to use in your search. Dictionaries will help you in defining terminology.
  • Encyclopedias and key articles will often introduce topics and provide lists of key references.

Make sure you get a good range of the available literature that covers your area of study:

  • The age of material is important - start with the most recent sources and work backwards.
  • Use a variety of resources - books, journal articles, theses, conference papers and reports.
  • Search by keyword, subject, and also author.
  • Evaluate the information - is a journal refereed (peer-reviewed)? Is a source authoritative?
  • Develop good referencing skills (see Keeping track of reading materials - referencing skills).
  • You can broaden your search by looking laterally for literature in related fields.

Resources at the University of Melbourne

Finding items not held by the library

  • BONUS+ - a resource-sharing scheme for a number of universities in Australia and New Zealand.
  • Inter-Library Loans - available to staff, postgraduate and Honours students, You can request journal articles (electronic or print) or books not held by the University of Melbourne Library. Use BONUS+ where possible for books.
  • CAVAL (Victorian) and National Borrowing Scheme - borrow in person from Victorian and Australian universities.
  • Other Library Catalogues.

Key databases