Literature Search: How to Make It Faster and More Interesting

search-for-literatureConducting a literature research is an important part of college studies. The ability to find necessary information as quickly as possible is an indispensable skill of a successful student. Some people have to spend an enormous amount of time on their papers because they don’t know how to do a literature search. So, here are tips that will help you find information faster.

Literature Search: Where to Start


Searching for literature is not as hard as it seems, if a person knows how to use informational resources. This is how you can start your research:

  1. First, you can go to the library and browse through a library catalogue. There are many subject indexes and they will help you find information on every topic.
  2. Secondly, there are many online databases such as SAGE, EBSCOhost, JSTOR, ProQuest. They will offer you many up-to-date and relevant articles about the topic of your paper.
  3. Internet resources such as Google Scholar can also be of great use to students who look for relevant information.
  4. Finally, you may ask your professor or teaching assistant for advice. They will definitely tell you what kind of sources you should use for your paper.

Literature Search: Understanding the Logic of Search Engines


Nowadays, the Internet has become the most popular means of finding information. Yet, some people don’t know how to use this tool effectively. Prior to beginning any search for literature on the Web, you should understand how this information can be retrieved most easily. There are several things that you should do for this:

  1. First, you need to identify the main keywords related to your topic. You should also write down synonyms to these keywords.
  2. Secondly, when you write a search query, make sure that it is no longer that four words, because otherwise the search engine may offer you many irrelevant web pages.
  3. When you want to find exact matches to your query, put your keywords in quotation marks.
  4. If you want to sift out irrelevant web pages, use Boolean operators, like And, Or, Not.
  5. You should also carefully evaluate the sources Internet offers you. Remember that blogs and commercial websites are not always credible. You should access first educational and governmental websites.


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Literature Search: Evaluating Sources


When you have already found many sources, you have to choose the most credible ones. This is how you can rank your sources in terms of credibility:

  1. Peer-reviewed studies published within the last five years;
  2. Books written on the topic;
  3. Official documents published by governmental agencies or international organizations;
  4. Encyclopedia entries;
  5. Newspaper articles. It is possible to use newspaper articles, but you have to make sure that you are not relying on the data published by the yellow press.

If you take into account these recommendations, you’ll see that any literature search can be made much more productive.

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