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Literature Reviews

Hot Tips

Field searching helps narrow your results to only results appearing in the most useful fields. For instance the:

  • title 
  • abstract. 

Most of the time relevant resources will mention your key concept in the abstract. Sometimes it will be mentioned in the title but not always.

The subject field can also be useful in databases which use a thesaurus or subject headings, such as Medline, ERIC or PsycInfo.

Use the advanced search to restrict results to fields by using the drop down menus at the beginning or end of the search bar.

Cited reference searching allows you to look forward and back in the literature by:


Lady looking forward


Lady looking back (Khan & Khan, ca. 1825)

Lady looking backwards


Adapted from Lady looking back (Khan & Khan, ca. 1825)

Looking backwards, by finding articles in it's bibliography.

Looking forwards, finding articles that have cited it.

Databases for cited reference searching that have both these features include:

Finding review articles on similar topics will be useful to find more relevant authors and papers 

Many databases provide limits to restrict results to 'reviews' using limiters such as publication type or document type. Check the Advanced Search screen for limiting options.

Finding full text

You will sometimes come across a citation for a resource that the university does not have access to. You can try:

Make databases work for you

If your research project is for a longer period of time you will need to bring the literature review completely up to date at the time you submit the thesis.

Databases have many functions that will help you to organise and manage your searches to keep track of new literature.

  • Accounts
    Create a personal account in databases to use the advanced functions below. This is separate to your JCU login.
  • Saved searches 
    Once you have created searches that give you relevant results, save them to your database account so you can retrieve them later.
  • Alerts
    You can create alerts from searches so you are notified of new results in the database that match your search terms.
  • Help...
    All databases have help sections describing their functions and how to use them... so use them!

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