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A Guide to Conducting Reviews: How and Where to Search?

This LibGuide outlines some of the common types of reviews including literature, systematic, and scoping reviews, and lists some ways by which University Librarians can assist in conducting such reviews.

Develop a search strategy:

A comprehensive search should include a combination of subject headings (e.g. MeSH) and a wide range of keywords/phrases for each concept of the research question. Not all databases have subject headings.

Search tips:

  • Look for synonyms in dictionaries/thesauri
  • Enclose phrases between quotations
  • Make use of Boolean operators (AND, OR, NOT) 
  • Apply text mining (search for useful keywords/phrases or subject headings in a few most relevant articles to your topic)
  • Examine search strategies in existing related systematic reviews 


Search sources:

  • The World Wide Web/Internet – Google, specialist websites, Google Scholar 

  • Bibliographic databases

– Subject specific e.g. Education—ERIC: Education Resources Information Centre

– Multidisciplinary e.g. Scopus, ProQuest, Web of Science

 * Grey Literature tutorial from University of Toronto

Core databases to search when undertaking rigorous reviews: