Nutrition and Food Science: Find the evidence


Bike image 2 [Adapted from: Dollar photo club,]Library databases are search tools for finding articles, papers, reports, book chapters and more. Scholarly references are best found in databases.

Databases can be discipline specific (such as CAB Abstracts) or multidisciplinary (such as Academic Search Premier). Many contain full text material, or the reference and abstract only.

Key databases starters:

  1. &lsquo, 3D Character and Question Mark, 18 July 2008, CC License: CC BY-NC-SA 2.0[(], Image Source: flickr,[] Don't know much about the topic area? Do some background reading, for example look in your textbook(s), or a try a relevant book.
  2. Look at the terms used in any key articles found. For example, look at the abstract, subject headings or author supplied keywords. Can you use these terms to further revise your search?
  3. Look at the reference list of any key articles found, these may be relevant.
  4. If you cannot find what you need in one database, try another one.
  5. Change your search. You may need to re-work it by adding another concept to focus it further, or removing a concept to broaden it. Are there any synonyms (similar keywords) you need to add?
  6. Searching for evidence takes time and practice. You may need to revise your search several times before you find what you need.


Books can provide:[Horia Varlan, 'Hardcover book gutter and pages', CC Licence: CC BY 2.0 (, Image source: Flickr (]

  • definitions
  • topic overviews
  • step-by-step guides
  • in-depth information on a topic

...and much more comprehensive coverage of a topic than a webpage. Many books in the Library's collection are written or edited by people with expertise in the relevant field.

Types of books

There are a number of different types of books that you may need to use. For example:

Reference books - includes encyclopedias, handbooks, dictionaries, bibliographies and directories. Consult them to define terms or  find specific information. Search for them using the catalogue, like any other book.

Textbooks - provide instructional material intended for educational purposes. Textbooks are frequently updated as the material can become out of date very quickly.
Scholarly books - written on specific subjects and usually for a specific audience. Scholarly materials are necessary for university-level research in most disciplines.

You should evaluate any books you use to decide if you should use it in your research. For helping doing this see the Evaluate page.

Search the Library Catalogue to find books

Example topic search: cardiovascular exercise

Quick tips

  • Refine your results by Format: Books to find books only
  • Use double quotes for phrases e.g. "dietary supplement"
  • Title search: select the Title option from the Search drop-down menu
  • Common title? Add more information (e.g. author's surname), or try an Advanced Search

Finding ebooks only: Limit your results by Format: Books, and then Show Only: Full Text Online

Catalogue search example [Image source: UniSA Library]



Bike3 image [Adapted from: Dollar photo club,]Journals are the primary medium for scholarly communication. They account for a large percentage of university research output.


  • present current research/debate
  • provide highly focused information
  • contain research findings/opinions of experts
  • contain information not found elsewhere
  • contain information about new research areas
  • may be peer reviewed

Search help

Databases may look different but how you apply your search strategy to them is often very similar.

The following video shows you how to search CINAHL (via the EbscoHost platform). Apply the skills you learn by watching this video to other  EbscoHost databases, such as CAB Abstracts and Academic Search Premier.

[Low quality version of video available]

Shows how to apply your search in Scopus. [Low quality version of video available]


Grey Literature

Link to Grey Literature <image, public domain>

Find sources of unpublished & non-traditional scholarly materials: 'Grey literature'