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Graduate Research: Finding and reviewing literature

Useful Books

Why review research literature?

All research, whatever the discipline, needs to be situated in relation to what has already been done in the field. So the first step in any project is "research about research". This might mean:

  • finding out what is already known about a topic, in order to locate gaps and justify the research being undertaken
  • locating the work of important theorists whose ideas will inform the research
  • identifying useful methodologies, methods and documentary sources
  • locating and evaluating all the empirical studies, published and unpublished, that are relevant to the research questions (for more on this kind of review see the box Systematic Reviews below)

This guide provides information on planning and carrying out searches. The Communicating Research tab has information on reporting literature research.

Consult with your subject contact librarian on all aspects of literature research

The contact librarian for your subject can:

  • advise on library resources and services that are available to you for your research, and the most effective  literature research techniques
  • facilitate interdisciplinary research by linking you to library colleagues who are information experts in other disciplines
  • advise about relevant workshops that the Library is running as part of your faculty’s Graduate Research training program
  • provide feedback on your on-going literature research to  help ensure you are covering all potentially relevant sources

Make an appointment to discuss your project in the early stages of your planning

 

Exploring the literature

What are the key journals in my area?

 

Locating Theses

Use the Theses library guide to access theses submitted at Monash University and also theses from other universities in Australia and internationally.

 

Developing a search strategy

Planning a literature search before you start will improve your results. Refer to the Researching for your literature review library guide for guidance in developing a comprehensive search strategy.

Further tips to improve your searching are available via help links and tutorials in individual databases or in the library's search strategy tutorial.

Finding previous research

Methods

There are many different methods to search databases, and the method you use will depend on how comprehensive you want your search to be.

Systematic Literature Reviews

A Systematic Review (SR) aims to "identify, appraise and synthesize" all studies, published and unpublished, relevant to a specific research question.  Explicit, systematic methods are used to minimise bias and enable verification and replication. These reviews can be used to inform policy and decision making, or to target areas for future research. They are undertaken predominantly in Medicine and allied health, but are also produced in other disciplines such as education, social welfare, crime and justice.

Major organisations/collaborations involved in the production of systematic reviews include: 

Refer to the Systematic Review library guide for an introduction to conducting a systematic review of the literature. Additional information can be found in the "Systematic Review" tutorial in the Alexandria Repository.

Contact your subject librarian  for specific guidance on the systematic review process.

 

 

 

Classes and workshops

Many classes on library research methods are arranged at the request of individual doctoral programs, schools or faculties. Ask your Contact librarian for details of upcoming workshops and library sessions in your discipline, or check the Library Class Booking System

Setting up alerts

Keep up-to-date with new research literature in your field. Save database search histories and receive email alerts when new articles are published that match your search query. Receive the contents pages from the lastest issue of relevant journals.

Refer to the Help pages of individual databases for further details

Keeping records of your research

EndNote software can help you organise and manage the references that underpin your literature review. It integrates with common word processors to format citations and reference lists in your documents. Windows and Mac versions available.

For help with EndNote contact a librarian or enrol in an EndNote class

Obtaining material not held by Monash

  • Refer to the Document Delivery library guide to request material not available at Monash
  • You are also encouraged to recommend material to add to the Library’s collection to support your research. Discuss this with your contact librarian or fill in the suggestion form.