The overall goals of the literature search are 1) to refine your topic, and 2) then find as much relevant information as possible on your topic, within reason. Talk to your professor to get guidance on this. The extent of your search will depend on:
Here are objectives that will help you meet the goal of the literature search:
The UNT Libraries have all the sources and search tools you need for your literature review. Our collections contain books, journals, dissertations and theses, films, music and more. Use these search tools to conduct your literature review and contact your subject librarian for guidance (see the Subject Librarians list or Library Hacks: Find Your Subject Librarian video):
Why? Because you can do much broader searches in the UNT library catalog and online databases than in full text journal or book packages.
You don't want to miss any important sources on your topic that are in print here or at another library altogether. The Discover library catalog and databases will link you to the full text journal and book packages, so start your searches in the catalog for books and in electronic databases for journal articles.
What's the difference between a catalog/database and a full text package? A catalog/database has the following characteristics:
A full text package has the following characteristics:
Keywords are words that carry content and meaning. The keywords in the research question "What is the feeding range of the blue whale in the Pacific Ocean?" are feeding range, blue whale and Pacific Ocean.
Think of words similar to your keywords in case a database doesn't use your original keywords. Synonyms for blue whale are baleen whale and Balaenoptera musculus.
A Boolean search is a search using the words AND, OR and NOT between the keywords. These words have a special function when used in a database.
You can avoid doing multiple searches for variations on word endings using the truncation symbol * (the asterisk) in most databases. Entering the keyword "blue whale*" will look for both blue whale and blue whales.
If you want a literature review, add "AND review" to your keywords. To find a research study, add "AND study" to your keywords.
Always go to the Advanced Search in a database to enter your Boolean searches because it gives you multiple boxes with the Boolean operators between them. If you are using a search with multiple search strings, enter OR within the search boxes and AND between the search boxes, e.g., [blue whale OR Balaenoptera musculus] AND [feeding range OR feeding grounds] AND [Pacific Ocean].
Many instructors require you to use peer-reviewed sources for your papers and projects, but what does that mean?
Most databases allow you to limit your search to peer-reviewed articles. Here are two examples:
Don't get buried by scribbled citations written on scraps, napkins, and tissues! Organize and manage the citations from the articles, books and other resources you cite in your literature review using RefWorks, a bibliographic manager.
RefWorks is available through the UNT Libraries for all students, faculty and staff. Learn how to use RefWorks at the library's RefWorks guide, or view UNT's RefWorks video series.
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