Students and staff of the Radboud University can contact the NSM team for help in developing expert search strategies.
We can partner with you on:
You can follow seven steps to make sure that you have performed a thorough literature review:
Why do you want to do a review?
Narrow your subject and create sub-questions. Keep in mind the aspects that are relevant for your discipline.
Consider what type of literature (journal articles, books, case studies etc.) you are looking for as the type of literature determines the database you should use. You will find databases in this library guide in the menu Find Literature ordered by name and by publication type. Our Databases A-Z lists all available search sources.
Tips to identify whether a source is relevant:
When performing an extensive literature search, don’t only look to the key terms of your research question or topic.
Also bear in mind the following terms:
To find alternative search terms:
Every database works differently. The NSM team can help you with setting up searches using the specialized syntax of individual databases.
If you have found one journal article, you can consult the article's references to find out what sources were used. This will help you to find earlier literature.
Snowballing Procedure (source: C. Wohlin 2014)
Cited reference search
Cited reference search is snowballing forward. Look at sources where the article is cited. This will give you more up-to-date literature on your topic. The Web of Science or Google Scholar search engine, for example, let you do this easily.
Searching relevant journals
If you find many relevant articles in certain journals, it may be useful to search these journals to find other relevant articles. Find out more about journal search.
If a lot of your key articles are written by the same author, you could carry out an author search. You can search by author in almost all databases or search engines. Make sure you search for all name variants.
You can organize your search terms into thematic groups (blocks), covering the various aspects within your topic. It will help to create an overview of potential search terms.
The search terms within a block are combined with OR, the blocks are combined with an AND operator.
Record your search activities including search strategy, search terms, search options, search filters and search operators.
Decide which articles are relevant for your review. Think about including and excluding criteria, e.g.
The PRISMA flow diagram might help you with this selection process.
To select references:
At the NSM you should credit sources in American Psychological Association (APA) style.
Reference management programs help you with managing references and citing literature in your documents. They offer ways to link and search full text and format your citations in many different citation styles.