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Conducting your literature review

Choosing where to search

Once you have completed your scoping search, defined the concepts and themes of your research, and identified some keywords, you will need to carry out in-depth searches to find relevant and quality literature for your systematic review, as well as to finalise your keywords and search strings.

Other useful insights can be found in non-scholarly information or grey literature, but these cannot be searched in a systematic way. This type of information can include a variety of documents not produced by traditional commercial or academic publishers, such as books, theses, conference papers, reports and working papers.

Most high-quality, scholarly research is published in academic journals, and it is these articles which are the main currency of academic research.

There are two distinct types of resources – subject (aggregator) databases or indexes and, publisher databases.

Each of the following subject databases and indexes can be searched systematically. Scopus and Web of Science provide citation searching.

Subject databases provide access to the abstract and/or full text of articles listed in the publisher databases. For example, Emerald Insight content is entirely indexed in the ProQuest One Business database. Therefore, you should only need to search the subject databases. However, you can search the publisher databases if you find you are missing relevant articles when searching the subject databases. The choice is yours but always document your choices and the reasons behind them.