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Searching for your literature review: Search approaches

Key approach

Topic searching

Topic searching allows you to locate relevant literature by using key concepts directly relevant to your research question. It can include simple scoping searches or more comprehensive searches.

Types of topic searches

For help planning your search and searching see:

Other search approaches

Using a range of other search approaches can also be useful finding published and grey literature.

Locating key authors

Search for key authors in the Library catalogue or relevant databases. Alternatively check author profiles such as ORCiD and Google Scholar.

Learn more:

Browse contents (hand searching)

Double check you have not missed relevant literature by browsing key journal or conference proceedings' online contents pages for a certain number of years.

Learn more:

Citation tracking

Look at the reference list and who has cited (referenced) key publications to find further relevant literature.

Key databases and search tools which track citations include Scopus, Web of Science, Google Scholar and the Library Collection.

In the Library catalogue look for  or  .

Learn more:

Thesauri

Subject searching

Many databases include a thesaurus where publications indexed in the databases are assigned subject headings by experts within the field. They can be useful to explore to:

  • gain a better understanding of your discipline area
  • discover synonyms or alternative terms to use in your searches
  • find relevant subject terms to add to your searches

Most thesauri will require you to enter your search terms or browse to find relevant terms.

 ERIC (ProQuest) thesaurus example

Select the 'i' icons below for more information:

Top tips:

  • If you are doing a systematic review you should include subject terms in your search to make it comprehensive.
  • Always check the scope note (explanation) available in a thesaurus to make sure your understanding is the same as the definition given.

Database

Thesaurus

Agricultural and environmental science collection (ProQuest) EIS Controlled terms
Life Sciences Thesaurus
Pollution Thesaurus
Taxonomic Terms (Latin Names of Organisms Vocabulary)
Technology Thesaurus
Water Resources Abstracts Thesaurus
Art, design and architecture and collection (ProQuest) ProQuest Thesaurus

Advanced technologies and aerospace index (ProQuest Technology collection)

Technology Thesaurus

Business Source Complete (EBSCO)

Business Thesaurus

EMBASE (OVID)

EMTREE

Select 'Map subject terms' under the search box to use the Thesaurus by default.

Alternatively, you can find it under Search Tools. Change the drop down to 'Thesaurus'.

EMCARE (OVID)

EMTREE

Select 'Map subject terms' under the search box to use the Thesaurus by default.

Alternatively, you can find it under Search Tools. Change the drop down to 'Thesaurus'.

ERIC (Educational resources information center) (ProQuest)

ERIC Thesaurus

MEDLINE (OVID)

Medical Subject Headings (MeSH)

Select 'Map subject terms' under the search box to use the Thesaurus by default.

Alternatively, you can find it under Search Tools. Change the drop down to 'Thesaurus'.

Meteorological and geoastrophysical abstracts (Earth, atmospheric & aquatic science collection)(ProQuest)

Meteorological and Geoastrophysical Terms

ProQuest Central

MeSH 2021 Thesaurus
ProQuest Thesaurus

PsycINFO (APA PsycINFO via OVID)

Thesaurus of Psychological Index Terms. 

Select 'Map subject terms' under the search box to use the Thesaurus by default.

Alternatively, you can find it under Search Tools. Change the drop down to 'Thesaurus'.

Sociological abstracts

Sociological thesaurus

Worldwide political science abstracts (ProQuest)

Politics and Policy Thesaurus

More help: