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Literature Searching Resources

Useful resources to look at when starting to search for literature or writing a review.

Guidance: Books, articles and online resources

There are many books and websites out there to help with literature searching. Many will be topic specific, so below are some more general resources. If you need help with a specific type of review or topic area then get in touch with your schools Academic Support Librarian. 

Online / video resources:

  1. Am I the only one struggling to write a literature review: Sage Research Methods. Dr. Zina O'Leary explains the misconceptions and struggles students often have with writing a literature review. She also provides step-by-step guidance on writing a persuasive literature review.
  2. How to conduct an effective literature review: Sage Research Methods. How to conduct an effective literature review using a literature review sketch (17min).
  3. Reviewing the literature: Sage Research Methods. This section takes you through the literature review process, explaining the reasons for reviewing the literature and differentiation between the types of literature available. 

Books/ Articles

Supplementary Resources

  1. Literature Review: A general guide on how to conduct and write a literature review. Institute for Academic Development (IAD) University of Edinburgh: 
  2. Cochrane Interactive LearningThe University of Edinburgh subscribes to the Cochrane Interactive Learning modules. These will guide you through the systematic review process.

  3. Resource lists: 

Finding the literature: Databases and other sources

General Searching:

DiscoverEd is the University's resource discovery tool and will help you to find the resources you need.

If you need help searching DiscoverEd have a look at the help pages and  FAQs.

Google Scholar is also a useful tool for finding literature. 


Literature Databases:

Each database has a specialty. To find the most relevant information you should look in the database that matches your topic area.

The databases by subject lists are useful to identify those that may be of use. Depending on the topic of your search you may want to look at databases from other areas.


Other Sources:

Think about using key organizations, specialist collections, national or local bodies literature, grey literature (literature not published in a traditional way). Which ones are useful depend on your topic.  

Sourcing and organising resources

Useful resources to help you obtain material and organize it :

Interlibrary Loan: If you cannot get access to an item then place an interlibrary loan.

Request a Book: Unable to get an item for your course work or research? Then suggest an item for addition to the library collection.



Reference Management software: The university offers access to EndNote, but also offers training on other reference managers. 

Cite them right online: This resources helps you reference just about any material type, as well as having advice on avoiding plagiarism.

Know Your Work: helpful information from the Edinburgh University Students Association.