You will likely go through the search process a number of times, performing different searches with different keyword combinations, to address the different components of your literature review.
Before jumping in, try to find the conversation around your research interests. You might explore current journal issues, reference sources, find books or articles by the authors you've read in class, or look at less formal sources such as social media.
#1 Identify your question. Identify the key concepts and related terms. Tip: You may want to re-phrase your question. Background reading can help you identify related terms and further define or narrow your topic.
|Explore reference lists to locate other articles, books, or authors who have written on the same topic.
|#2 Find an appropriate search tool. Consider your subject matter, discipline of study, type of information needed (e.g. peer reviewed articles)
|Locate cited by literature to view more recent similar or adjacent research.
#3 Start with a simple search based on your key concepts. Tip: You may also have to look at literature that refers to one (not all) aspects of your research question.
|Browse the table of contents of relevant journals and special issues.
#4 Use specific search strategies.
|Locate an expert in the field and browse their publications.
|#5 Search and skim results. Look for the language and terms that researchers use and that the database assigns to articles (Subjects).
|#6 Switch up your searches. Use promising new terminology. Your search may become more sophisticated.
In addition to using the best keywords, increase the effectiveness of your search by using:
Boolean operators, AND, OR, and NOT, are used to combine your keywords.
AND is used to connect different concepts: "social media" AND "protest movement"
Using AND to connect keywords will decrease your search result numbers, or narrow your search, because the database is searching for sources that contain all of the keywords connected by AND.
OR is used to connect similar concepts: "social media" OR "social networking site" OR Facebook
Using OR to connect similar words will increase your search result numbers, or broaden your search, because the database is searching for sources that contain at least one of the keywords connected by OR.
NOT will remove any search results that contain a particular keyword: "social media" NOT Pinterest
Using NOT will decrease the number of search results, or narrow our search, because the database will exclude resources with the specified keyword(s) from the results list.
Enclose your keywords in quotation marks to search for an exact phrase:
Truncation allows you to account for words with variations.
The asterisk(*) is commonly used to truncate a keyword. Place the * where you would like to account for variation: