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Friday, September 04, 2015

What is the best way to track down references?

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"Systematic searching and a clear focus are the keys to a successful literature review." writes Matthew Reisz.

Photo: Times Higher Education
Photo: Aurélie Gandour

For anyone embarking on a literature review, says Aurélie Gandour, “one simple step will put you way ahead of all your colleagues: go and get an appointment with a librarian”.

Ms Gandour is herself an academic librarian who has worked at the Paris University Institute for Teachers’ Training (attached to the Université Paris-Sorbonne), now known as L’ESPE Paris, and currently within the NHS in the UK, training postgraduates and early career researchers in precisely these skills. She also maintains the website

Early support from a librarian, explains Ms Gandour, can smooth the process because “all literature reviews need to start with a literature search, and most literature searches will involve using bibliographic databases”. Many are “a little tricky to use”, particularly if approached in a spirit of trial and error, “so do yourself a favour and learn how to use them properly from the get-go”.

The central technique for a successful literature review, continued Ms Gandour, is to proceed methodically, building on “the great articles you’ve already found”: “The first obvious step is to systematically check the bibliography of each article you read. But you should also use Google Scholar (or any other database available to you) to check if those articles have been cited since they were published, and track down those references.

Source: Times Higher Education