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Researcher Skills Toolkit

Identify where to search

3. Identify where to search


There are many places to search for literature for your research. Where you search will depend on the discipline, research topic and types of resources required. 

Click the tabs below for more information about searching using databases, library catalogues, preprint servicers and grey literature repositories.

Scholarly databases are searchable collections of information. Databases can include a wide variety of information sources including:

  • Scholarly journal literature
  • Professional and trade magazines
  • Newspaper articles
  • Company and industry information
  • Images
  • Statistics
  • Standards
  • Patents
  • Theses

Databases have been developed to provide a structured way to search for scholarly information. They are the best place to search for scholarly literature. Databases can be subject-specific or multidisciplinary and are updated regularly, usually daily or weekly. 
Consider the following factors when choosing a database: 

  • Using a database specific to your discipline will focus your search 
  • Some databases index specific resource types, such as journal articles or grey literature 
  • Most databases will provide a basic and an advanced search option 
  • Databases provide the ability to limit results, for example by year, publication type, peer-reviewed content, and several other options 
  • Databases provide the ability to save search strategies, and to email, print, download, or export results to bibliographic software such as EndNote 
Type of database What is included
Indexing and abstracting databases

Indexed from a range of information sources, providing the citation and abstract for searched items 

Links may be included to the full text of indexed items, but no full text is included within the database itself 

Full-text databases

Indexed from a range of information sources, providing the citation and abstract for searched items 

Full text of indexed items is included with the records 

Indexing and abstracting with some full-text databases

Indexed from a range of information sources, providing the citation and abstract for searched items 

Some full text of indexed items is included with the records 

Citation databases Useful for finding highly cited publications and identifying significant articles and authors within a discipline 

The University of Newcastle Library subscribes to hundreds of databases which can be freely accessed in the following ways:  

  • The A-Z Database list contains a complete list of the databases that you can access through the library.  
  • Theses and Dissertations LibGuide - links to databases and online sites for University of Newcastle, Australian and international theses.
  • Subject Resource Guides have been created by the library as collections of relevant resources by subject area. They contain links to key library databases in each discipline, and other important resources.

Library catalogues are useful for broad, background searching. However, they are not usually used for comprehensive and detailed searching because their search functionality tends to be less sophisticated than that of databases. 

Catalogue Description

Library Search searches the University of Newcastle Library's print and online holdings. It can be used to search: 

  • Physical items including books, journals, and DVDs in our libraries  
  • Online journal articles  
  • Journals 
  • eBooks  
  • University of Newcastle theses from the University’s digital repository NOVA 

See About Library Search for tips on searching.

Trove provides access to over 6 billion records about Australia or of interest to the Australian community. 
Trove focuses on freely available digital content created by Australians and held in the collections of Australian Libraries, Archives, Museums, Galleries, University, Research, and community organisations.  

Trove includes: 

  • Full-text copies of Australian newspapers and Government Gazettes.  
  • Full-text online copies of magazines and newsletters from Australia and the Pacific. 
  • Online images, maps, and artefacts from more than 430 Australian organisations depicting special events and everyday life. 
  • Descriptions of the digitised and undigitised collections in Australian libraries including books, DVDs, microfiche, 100 years of press releases from the Commonwealth Parliament and many other items. 
  • Manuscript or unpublished collections from Libraries and Archives including diaries, sketches, photographs, scrapbooks and more. 
  • Recorded sound from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), oral histories, music scores and other audio material. 
  • All Australian theses from the last decade, Commonwealth Parliamentary Papers such as Annual Reports and Senate Inquiries, and contemporary government reports. 
WorldCat is the world's largest network of library content and services, providing the ability to search the collections of libraries in Australia (including the University of Newcastle) and internationally. 

Preprints are particularly useful for early communication of research findings, especially when publication is delayed by lengthy peer-review processes associated with journal publishing. 

Most preprints are published in preprint servers. Some preprint servers are run by not-for-profit organisations, while some are associated with commercial publishers or journals. 

Preprints are not comprehensively indexed by journal databases. Scopus includes preprints from arXiv, bioRxiv, ChemRxiv, medRxiv and SSRN. 

Preprint server  Details
arXiv  Established in 1991 and run by Cornell University, arXiv provides access to over 490,000 preprints in physics, mathematics, computer science, quantitative biology, and statistics.
Authorea Multidisciplinary preprint server. DOIs are automatically assigned.
biorXiv  Run by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, publishes preprints in the life sciences discipline. 
chemRxiv   Free online submission, distribution, and archival service for unpublished preprints in chemistry and related areas.
Cogprints  Self-archived papers in areas related to cognition including psychology, neuroscience, linguistics, computer science, philosophy, and biology 
ESS Open Archive The Earth and Space Science Open Archive is a community server established to accelerate the open discovery and dissemination of earth, environmental, and space science research by archiving and sharing early research outputs, including preprints, presentations from major scientific meetings, and important documents of scholarly societies.
EarthArXiv  Preprint server for the earth sciences. Part of the Center for Open Science network.  
MedrXiv Preprint server for health sciences
Nature Proceedings  Established in January 2007, it is a permanent, citable archive for pre-publication research and preliminary findings in biology, medicine (except clinical trials), chemistry and earth sciences.  
OSF Preprints  The Center for Open Science is a non-profit technology organisation focussed on increasing the openness, integrity, and reproducibility of scientific research. 
PeerJ Preprints  Owned and run by the publisher, PeerJ.  Supported by MDPI, includes a wide range of engineering, life sciences, materials sciences, and arts and humanities papers. Some subject areas are more populous than others.  
PsyArXiv  Preprint service for the psychological sciences 
ResearchGate Multidisciplinary preprint server. Preprints are assigned DOIs and indexed in Google Scholar
SocarXiv  Preprint server for the social sciences  
SSRN  Repository for preprints devoted to the rapid dissemination of scholarly research in the social sciences, humanities, life sciences, health sciences, and more 
Zenodo Multidisciplinary server for a variety of file formats. Maintained by CERN. DOIs are automatically assigned

Grey literature repositories

Some information, such as government documents, reports, and other grey literature, are not indexed in scholarly databases, so you will need to expand your search online.  

Although grey literature is not usually peer-reviewed, it may still be a reliable source of information for your research topic. 

You will need to evaluate everything you find. 

Use the Grey Literature Library Guide to identify government websites, grey literature repositories, databases, and other resources. 

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