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Finding literature for your research paper

Developing your question

This guide will help you find scholarly and industry literature for your research paper. Start by closely reading the assessment details to understand what to do.

For your paper you will need to create your own research question. Your question affects every aspect of your research paper including how and where you search. Your question should be answerable, clear, focused and relevant.

Key strategies to get started

  1. Identify a broad topic area of interest
  2. Try  preliminary searches and reading to learn more:
    • What key research is happening? Are there gaps?
    • Terminology used?
  3. Focus your topic into a clear and answerable research question. Ask who, what, when, why and how questions. For example:
    • Who does this affect?
    • What do people think about this? What works better?
    • When is the best time to do this?
    • Why is this important?
    • How does this work? How can this be fixed?

More help

Plan your search

For this guide we will be using the following example question. Please adapt the skills and techniques shown to your own question.

"What do flight and cabin crew believe precipitates air rage in passengers?"

It can be helpful to break your question down into key concepts or elements you want to search for.

Also, consider parameters of the assessment task and your question. This will inform where and how you search. For example:

  • Types of literature needed? e.g. articles, industry reports, data etc.
  • Types of evidence relevant? e.g. empirical, qualitative etc.
  • Currency of literature?
  • Geographic location? e.g. Australian

Terminology is key

Ideas and keywords may be expressed differently across the literature. Always consider:

  • Synonyms or alternative keywords e.g. flight crew OR cabin crew
  • Plurals or word variations e.g. influence OR influencing
  • Common acronyms
  • Different spellings e.g. traveling OR travelling

It can useful to map out or table potential keywords as a way to organise your search approach. For example:

Main concepts

Synonyms or alternative concepts

Flight/Cabin Crew

flight attendant, cabin crew

Air rage in passengers

unruly, angry, abusive, disruptive, agitated, enraged, difficult etc.

passengers, travelers, travellers, customers etc.


cause, causes, causation, influence etc.

Particular triggers? e.g. alcohol, medication, jet lag, anxiety, stress, delays etc.

Tip: Look at the terminology used in titles, keywords and abstracts.

Joining keywords into a search strategy

Where to search

The Library holds a range of search tools to help you find scholarly and industry information.

Scoping searches

How to start your search (opens in a new tab)

Key databases

Industry sources

There may be others of relevance depending on your question.

Methods databases

Data sources

More help

Searching databases

It is recommended you search relevant databases to get good coverage of the scholarly literature.

ProQuest Technology Collection

This collection can be a useful starting point as it includes the:

  • Advanced Technology & Aerospace database
  • Materials Science & Engineering database

Search example

Depending on your research question you may not need to search on every concept.

  1. Change the search fields to Anywhere except full text.
  2. Type each different concept into a new field. Connect with AND.
    Tip: Use double quotes to search for exact phrases.

ProQuest Technology Collection search for "air rage" AND "cabin crew"

  1. Add any synonyms or alternative concepts to broaden your search. Connect with OR.

ProQuest Technology Collection search for "air rage" OR abusive AND "cabin crew" OR "air crew"

  1. Add in any truncation to help you find plurals and word variations.

ProQuest Technology Collection search for "air rage" OR unruly OR abus* AND "cabin crew" OR "air crew"

  1. Select Search. From the results page apply any relevant limits.
  2. Look at terminology used in the literature to improve your search.

Using other databases

Most database have similar functions. Search like this in Scopus, a key multidisciplinary database, and PsycINFO, as key psychology database.

If you are using PsycINFO select the multifield search option.

Key links

Finding industry information

Use a range of sources to get good coverage of industry literature.

IBISWorld search example

Useful for finding Australian and international aviation industry reports.

  1. Start with a broad search of the industry area.

Screenshot of search for "airline" in IBISWorld with filters set on Australia and Industry, the first result is International Airlines in Australia

  • Limit by type of report (Industry) and location (Australia etc.).
  • Select a relevant report. Navigate using the left Navigation bar.

IBISworld report navigation bar list showing About this industry, Industry report, At a glance, Performance, Products and markets, Geographic breakdown, Competitive forces, and Companies

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