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Tips and Tricks for Literature Searches

Tips and Tricks for Literature Searches

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Tips and Tricks for Literature Searches

Time is a precious commodity, and as a doctoral student you are keenly aware of its value. You are
expected to be thorough and exhaustive in your search for academic resources. These expectations don’t
only exist so you can avoid duplicating existing research; they also empower and prepare you to
contribute to the foundations of thinking and practice in your chosen area of interest. One key to meeting
these expectations is to develop proficiency in online searching.

Share your tips and suggestions for finding relevant academic literature. These tips may relate to
navigating particular electronic databases, applying general searching techniques, constructing search
term queries, broadening or narrowing your initial search results, finding monographs and other
resources, or other topics.


Tips and Tricks for Literature Searches

Having the right skills to navigate through databases and search engines in order to come
up with relevant literature on a particular is a crucial necessity in developing a quality research.
While the internet has a plethora of books, journals, newspapers, reviews, case studies, and even
monographs, finding the correct resource that contains the most relevant information to a given
topic is a daunting task (Boell, & Cecez-Kecmanovic, 2014). However, there are various tips and
tricks that can be applied to ensure this exercise turns out successful.
The first step to getting relevant sources in any search engine or database involves
identifying the key search terms, also referred to as the keywords. Eliminating such superficial
words as conjunctions, transitional words, and even prepositions will help specify the search
results (Sharma, 2013). While searching for sources, it is imperative that one starts with online
databases, such as ProQuest, EBSCOhost, Emerald Insight, and Worldcat, among many others.
These databases usually contain authentic sources that have been published by authors. To get
better results, streamlining search options to peer-reviewed PDF sources may just play the trick,
since most of these are journal articles that are current and authentic.
The most common tool that people use to conduct searches is the search engines such as
Google, Yahoo!, and Bing among others. However, caution should be taken not to over-rely on
these engines, since they give duplicate results, as well as those that are not authentic. When

such results come up, one should avoid .com sites, YouTube, blogs, and online Wikis. Instead, it
would be helpful to do an advanced search, and specify the year range, document type (PDF),
and other specifications that differ from one search engine to the other. Summarily, one should
look for those search results that capture at least three-quarters of the key search terms.


Boell, S. K., & Cecez-Kecmanovic, D. (2014). A Hermeneutic Approach for Conducting
Literature Reviews and Literature Searches. Communications Of The Association For
Information Systems,34257-286.
Sharma, P. (2013). Reflections on medical literature searches. Transfusion, 53(8), 1858-1861.

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