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Literature/artefact review

For help completing your literature/artefact review please see the following links:

This short video (video length: 2 min 12 sec) from the Steely Library at Northern Kentucky University provides a quick introduction to literature reviews.

   Top tips
  • Record your search strategy so that you (and others) can replicate the process - this is generally advised to ensure transparency and replicability. Document search tools used, date searches conducted, search terms, any limits (e.g. year, language), and number of hits
  • Sign up for accounts with key database providers (e.g. Ovid and ProQuest) so that you can save articles, search strategies, alerts and more for later use
  • Set up alerts so that you keep up to date with material as it is published on your topic
  • To conduct a comprehensive search, go beyond the major indexed databases to locate grey literature
  • Manage and organise your search results using bibliographic management software such as EndNote
   An answerable question

'Successfully retrieving relevant information begins with a clearly defined, well-structured question.'
Davies, KS 2011, 'Formulating the evidence based practice question: a review of the frameworks', Evidence Based Library and Information Practice, vol. 6, no. 2, p. 75.

Developing a Research Question (Academic Skills, University of Melbourne)

A range of standardised frameworks have been developed to assist in developing focused, answerable questions which can be easily broken down into searchable components for more relevant results.

Plan your search

Planning your search will help you find information more efficiently. Start by:

  •  Identifying the main concepts in your research topic.
  •  Thinking of any alternative concepts or synonyms for each concept.
  •  Connecting your concepts together using AND and OR to form a search.

A table or mindmap (see 'Using mindmaps to plan assignments') can be a useful strategy for doing this. 

For example, you could create the table below if your topic was

How will machine learning impact the future of architecture?

Main concepts

Concept 1
Machine learning

Concept 2

Synonyms (similar concepts)

artificial intelligence

building design

Tip: As you search, you may come across more concepts or synonyms you can incorporate. Don't be afraid to change or modify your search as you go.

Connect your keywords

Now you need to connect your search concepts together to form different search strategies. The table below summarises how they work:

Operator words What it does Example
  • Narrows your search.
  • The more concepts you connect with AND the more focused your search will become.
"machine learning" AND architecture
  • Broadens your search.
  • Includes results that use different terminology.

"machine learning" OR automation OR AI OR "artificial intelligence"

  • Removes concepts from a search.
  • Not recommended as you can potentially eliminate relevant results.
"artificial intelligence" NOT robotics

Remember to use "quotation marks" to keep phrases together.

Test your knowledge

Try the activity below to check your understanding of using operator words.

Watch or read the below for more information on how to put together a search using operators:

Watch Plan your search (2min 26s)
Read: Plan your search (pdf) on the Library help pages
View the Writing your assignment page for more info on interpreting your topic and planning your search

Start your search

Once you've built a search strategy, you can apply it in search tools. Check out this video on Choosing where to search - video (2 mins 32 sec) and the example searches below.

The Library Collection can be a useful starting point in locating information. Use the advanced search to split your concepts on to different rows.

Use Refine my results on the left hand side to narrow your results. The following are useful refinements to try:

  • Show Only - Peer-reviewed journals
  • Resource Type - Book chapters
  • Publication Date - limit to the last 10 years

The Library Collection does not list everything we have access to. Try a database when you are not finding relevant results in the Collection or if you want to restrict your results to a specific discipline, topic area or material type.

Here is an example within ProQuest Central. Proquest Central is a multidisciplinary database covering 160 subject areas including architecture, interior architecture, communication design, contemporary art, industrial design and urban and regional planning. Ensure you only use references from this database that are from the relevant subject areas as you may find a reference from an unrelated subject area that seems relevant but might not be appropriate to include in your literature review.

Example Advanced Search

  • Put a different concept on each line
  • Use OR to connect any similar terms (synonyms)

  • Tip: Use the Find it button to locate full text articles

Google Scholar searches only within academic or scholarly sites, rather than the whole internet.  You will be able to link directly to articles that the library has access to by clicking on the Full-text at UniSA link.  Search in Google Scholar directly from the Library homepage for best access to full-text references.

The Advanced search option gives more flexibility when you search. To access it, select the hamburger menu (three lines) in the top left corner of Google Scholar. This menu will appear once you do an initial search in Google Scholar.

Here is an example:

BrowZine™ allows you to easily access and browse journals available online via UniSA. Access via Library homepage > Journals.

For your literature review, it is important that your references are from relevant sources. Within BrowZine, from the left-hand menu you can filter down to your subject discipline.

You may wish to use archives in the course of researching for your literature/artefact review. Our Archival Research Guide showcases key Australian archives and can help you develop basic archival research skills.

Find theses

Why look for existing theses?

  • Ensure that your topic has not been, or is not being, investigated by another researcher
  • Gain knowledge of other related research in your area of study
  • Discover the research that has preceded your topic
  • Explore methodologies and layouts used by other researchers in your field

Have a look at our online guide to Theses

This guide will help you to search databases to find theses, find exemplars and share your thesis through the Research Outputs Repository.

Research ethics

If using human participants in your research, It is important that you carefully consider the ethical implications. To learn more, head to the Research ethics page of the AskResearch website.

Analysing data

Although not essential to use for your literature/artefact review, you may be interested in exploring our Analyse data page on our Research Data Management guide for information on tools you can use for analysing data.


 UniSA supports the use of EndNote. EndNote automates citing your references and allows you to create and organise a library of references. For more information and to download EndNote for free, check out our EndNote guide.

Study Support

Need advice on writing? Not sure how to organise your ideas? The Study help: online resources hub has tools to help you with your Assignments and succeed at university!

Study Help

Want someone to check over a draft of your assignment? Studiosity offers an online classroom where you can chat with a learning adviser. The associated "Check Mate" service helps with English, writing and referencing.

  • Referencing Roadmap (Harvard)
    Help with the Harvard UniSA referencing style. Find in text-citations and reference examples, from different sources such as articles, books & chapters, websites, and more.
  • Referencing hub
    Information around what is referencing, paraphrasing, referencing rules, referencing styles and Academic Integrity. Also includes a link to the Harvard Referencing Guide UniSA (pdf).
  • Referencing forum
    Discuss referencing, exchange advice and post questions and answers about referencing (facilitated by Student Engagement Unit).

Put it all together

   Write and reference

Check out the video below to learn how to put an annotated bibliography together (video length: 2 min 444 sec).

Use the UniSA Study Help links below to help you write and reference your assignment:

Want to know more?