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How to Conduct a Literature Review: Step 3

Under the The Creative Commons license permission was granted to copy the design and content of this LibGuide from the Faculty of Education Library, University of Cambridge. Some content also came from the University of Illnois at Urbana-Champaign

Too many results?

If your searches result in too many references then try the following:

* Limit by date range

* Combine more key words in your search

* Limit to English Language publications only

* Limit by type of material - journal article for e.g.

Not enough results?

If your searches don't provide enough results, you may need to widen your search area.

* Try a broader topic.  For e.g. search for special educational needs rather than autism

* Use truncation to increase the number of results - search for educat* to find education, educational, educating etc.


Merinda Hensley gave permision for content to be borrowed by permission from Literature Review: Demystified LibGuide from the University of Illnois at Urbana-Champaign.

Step by Step Guide

Step 1: Prepare your search and organise your thoughts. Use the Search Preparation Form to help develop your ideas.Search Preparation formEdit/Delete Stats

Step 2: Choose a relevant database and create an account.

Step 3: Use the theasurus to find serach terms and make a note of those that retrieve useful results.

Step 4: Repeat your search on your chosen database by logging into your account. OR Repeat your search on another databse using the same keywords.

Step 5: Organise your references.

If you need help at any time please contact the Library Team:


Telephone: 256-726-7248

Text: 256-429-2629


Hints & tips

* Don’t try to combine too many terms in any one search – the more terms you use, the narrower your search will be and the greater the risk of there being no hits at all. Combining 2 or 3 terms is usually best.

* If there’s no suitable term in the thesaurus, don’t worry, as you can type in your own search term, but if it consists of more than one word, remember to enclose it in speech marks.

* Use AND, OR and NOT in your search.

    * AND will search for documents containing all of your search terms

    * OR will search for documents containing any of your search terms

    * NOT will search for documents containing your first search term, but not the second.

More information about using these terms can be found here.

* Look at the list of subject headings in relevant articles and make a note of any that look interesting for use in subsequent searches.

* Check the references at the end of any relevant article you find - some databases provide links to the references and also to articles which have cited the paper you're interested in.

Creative Commons License
Eva B. Dykes Library Libguides by Oakwood University is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.