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Researching for your literature review: Literature sources

Scholarly databases

It's important to make a considered decision as to where to search for your review of the literature. It's uncommon for a disciplinary area to be covered by a single publisher, so searching a single publisher platform or database is unlikely to give you sufficient coverage of studies for a review. A good quality literature review involves searching a number of databases individually.

The most common method is to search a combination of large inter-disciplinary databases such as Scopus & Web of Science Core Collection, and some subject-specific databases (such as PsycInfo or EconLit etc.). The Library databases are an excellent place to start for sources of peer-reviewed journal articles.

Depending on disciplinary expectations, or the topic of our review, you may also need to consider sources or search methods other than database searching. There is general information below on searching grey literature. However, due to the wide varieties of grey literature available, you may need to spend some time investigating sources relevant for your specific need.

Grey literature

Grey literature is information which has been published informally or non-commercially (where the main purpose of the producing body is not commercial publishing) or remains unpublished. One example may be Government publications.

Grey literature may be included in a literature review to minimise publication bias. The quality of grey literature can vary greatly - some may be peer reviewed whereas some may not have been through a traditional editorial process.

See the Grey Literature guide for further information on finding and evaluating grey sources.

See the Moodle book MNHS: Systematically searching the grey literature for a comprehensive module on grey literature for systematic reviews.


In certain disciplines (such as physics) there can be a culture of preprints being made available prior to submissions to journals. There has also been a noticeable rise in preprints in medical and health areas in the wake of Covid-19.

If preprints are relevant for you, you can search preprint servers directly. A workaround might be to utilise a search engine such as Google Scholar to search specifically for preprints, as Google Scholar has timely coverage of most preprint servers including ArXiv, RePec, SSRN, BioRxiv, and MedRxiv.

Articles in Press are not preprints, but are accepted manuscripts that are not yet formally published. Articles in Press have been made available as an early access online version of a paper that may not yet have received its final formatting or an allocation of a volume/issue number. As well as being available on a journal's website, Articles in Press are available in databases such as Scopus and Web of Science, and so (unlike preprints) don't necessarily require a separate search.

Conference papers

Conference papers are typically published in conference proceedings (the collection of papers presented at a conference), and may be found on an organisation or Society's website, as a journal, or as a special issue of journal.

In certain disciplines (such as computer science), conference papers may be highly regarded as a form of scholarly communication; the conferences are highly selective, the papers are generally peer reviewed, and papers are published in proceedings affiliated with high-quality publishing houses.

Conference papers may be indexed in a range of scholarly databases. If you only want to see conference papers, database limits can be used to filter results, or try a specific index such as the examples below:

Honours students and postgraduates may request conference papers through Interlibrary Loans. However, conference paper requests may take longer than traditional article requests as they can be difficult to locate; they may have been only supplied to attendees or not formally published. Sometimes only the abstract is available.


If you are specifically looking for statistical data, try searching for the keyword statistics in a Google Advanced Search and limiting by a relevant site or domain. Below are some examples of sites, or you can try a domain such as .gov for government websites.

Statistical data can be found in the following selected sources:

For a list of databases that include statistics see: Databases by Subject: Statistics.


If you are specifically looking for information found in newspapers, the library has a large collection of Australian and overseas newspapers, both current and historical.

To search the full-text of newspapers in electronic format use a database such as Newsbank.

Alternatively, see the Newspapers subject guide for comprehensive information on newspaper sources available via Monash University library and open source databases, as well as searching tips, online videos and more.

Dissertations and theses

The Monash University Library Theses subject guide provides resources and guidelines for locating and accessing theses (dissertations) produced by Monash University as well as other universities in Australia and internationally.

International theses:

There are a number of theses databases and repositories.

A popular source is:

Australia and New Zealand theses:

Theses that are available in the library can be found using the Search catalogue.

These include:

  • Monash doctoral, masters and a small number of honours theses 
  • other Australian and overseas theses that have been purchased for the collection.

Formats include print (not available for loan), microfiche and online (some may have access restrictions).

Trove includes doctoral, masters and some honours theses from all Australian and New Zealand universities, as well as theses awarded elsewhere but held by Australian institutions.


  • Type in the title, author surname and/or keywords. Then on the results page refine your search to 'thesis'.
  • Alternatively, use the Advanced search and include 'thesis' as a keyword or limit your result to format = thesis