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University of Newcastle Library guides

Literature Reviews: Searching the Literature

This guide is an introduction to the Literature Review process - including its purpose and strategies, guidelines and resources to help you get started

Sources of literature

Information or literature can be found in a variety of sources:

  • Journal articles
  • Online databases
  • Books and eBooks
  • Web pages
  • Government reports
  • Statistical material
  • Conference proceedings
  • Theses and dissertations

Search strategies

  • Determine the key concepts for your topic and related issues
  • Establish terminology. Use dictionaries and thesaurus to define terminology and find synonyms
  • Use Boolean operators (AND, OR, NOT) when searching databases to refine or broaden your search
  • Search using keywords, subject or author
  • Broaden your search by looking for literature in related areas, use 'related articles' database links to find more
  • Set up Search Alerts in databases to notify you when new documents that match your search are available
  • Consider the scope of your literature search. Is it a new research area which needs extensive searching or has the topic been well researched previously and searching needs to be more focused?
  • Start with more recent studies and work backwards for later research.
  • Evaluate the information. Is it authoritative? Is it peer-reviewed?
  • Find out who are 'authorities' or experts in your topic. Search for them by author or subject
  • When you have discovered a key article for your research use citation databases (for example Scopus) to find more recent articles that have cited it.

Databases to search for literature

Other resources
  • Literature reviews may already exist on some aspect of your topic, search for the phrase "literature review" and keywords within your topic on the UON Library catalogue, Newcat+, or on relevant databases.
  •  A detailed analysis of the literature may be covered in a Review Article, which is basically a literature review
  • Check the bibliographies of articles and other research publications for more literature on the topic.

Finding resources not held by the Library

University of Newcastle (UON) Staff and Students can use these services to request books and journal articles not held in the UON Library collections.

Use the BONUS+ resource-sharing service to borrow books from Australian and New Zealand universities that are not held, or are unavailable for loan from UON libraries.

Get It
Use the Get It resource-sharing service to request pdf copies of known journal articles or book chapters, or to borrow books that are not in either the UON or BONUS collections.