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Conducting a Literature Search. Nola du Toit Center for Family and Demographic Research Workshop Series Spring 2008. What is a Literature Search?.

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conducting a literature search

Conducting a Literature Search

Nola du Toit

Center for Family and Demographic Research

Workshop Series

Spring 2008

what is a literature search
What is a Literature Search?

“A literature search is a well thought out and organized search for all of the literature published on a topic. A well-structured literature search is the most effective and efficient way to locate sound evidence on the subject you are researching. Evidence may be found in books, journals, government documents and the internet.”1

purpose of a literature search
Purpose of a Literature Search
  • Broadens your knowledge on a topic
  • Shows your skill at finding relevant information
  • Allows for critical appraisal of research
what is your question
What is your question?
  • Create a chart with possible key words
        • Stay focused
        • Unmarried fertility = out-of-wedlock childbearing = single mothers = non-marital births
search strategy
Search Strategy
  • Set limits on your search
        • What is your perspective?
        • What is your contribution?
  • Check syllabi
        • Who are the big players?
search tools
Search Tools
  • Truncated search words
      • Marr* = married, marriage, marry
  • Boolean logic
      • Use OR, NOT, AND
types of literature
Types of Literature

1. Research Journals

  • Articles
  • Reviews/commentaries/replies
  • Reviews
types of literature8
Types of Literature

2. Books

  • Topic books
  • Handbooks
  • Theory books
types of literature9
Types of Literature

3. Online reports

  • Census
  • Research institutes
  • Government organizations
sources of literature
Sources of Literature

1. Library

  • Hard copies of books and journals
  • Interlibrary loan
  • Online library

BGSU Library Homepage

  • Academic Search Complete
  • Search by journal name
  • BGSU catalog
  • 4. OhioLINK catalog

Academic Search Complete

  • Type in search word
  • Limit by context (author, title, etc)
  • Add more search criteria

Add to folder

Click on the title opens the abstract.

Number of times cited in database

Narrow by subject

Find It!


Open link to find full text version of article

If it is not online, check to see if it is on the shelf


Search for a specific journal

Enter journal title or search by subject



Search by keyword, author, etc


See if BGSU has a copy

If not, request the item

sources of literature20
Sources of Literature

2. Internet

  • Online journals
      • “Google Scholar”
  • Websites
      • Government departments, research institutes, etc

Google Scholar

Can search for books and articles

Can do an advanced search


Title links to abstract and possible source of full text

“Find it with OLinks” links to full text version

Link to articles that cited the work

Link to related articles

critique the literature
Critique the Literature
  • Is it relevant to my research?
  • Is the study significant?
      • Strengths and weaknesses
  • What theories or methods are used?
critique the literature25
Critique the Literature
  • Is the research biased by emotions or public opinion?
  • Who is the target reader?
      • Public, academic peers, policy makers
Thank you!
  • Sources