Skip to Main Content

Literature Review - Finding the Resources

This guide assists you in finding the resources for your literature review

Keyword search

During your literature search, especially when you search for articles in databases, you will rely very much on keyword searching. To conduct a keyword search, you need to formulate a search statement.

Below are the basic steps to develop a search statement. After going through these steps, try to build up your own search statement using this worksheet [pdf]

Here is a diagram to help you understand:

1. Identify the keywords or the main concepts of your research topic.

  • For example, for the topic Globalization of Chinese companies, the keywords are Globalization, Chinese and Companies.

2. Think of similar terms (synonyms) or phrases that might also be used to describe these concepts, to ensure that you do not miss out any relevant information. You can use a thesaurus to help you find synonyms. For example, you can first arrange the main concepts in columns. Then under each column write down similar terms or phrases that may also be used to represent that concept:  


3. Combine your search terms in a way that a database can understand. To do this, you need to use the words AND, OR, NOT (Boolean operators).

  • AND combines different concepts (e.g. Globalization and Chinese listed in different columns of the table above are different concepts).
  • OR combines similar concepts (e.g. Chinese and China listed in the same column above are similar concepts).
  • NOT excludes the undesirable concepts

4. Make use of truncation, wildcards, parentheses and phrase searching for more productive searching. Symbols commonly used in many search tools including catalogues and databases are:

5. A search statement can then be developed

e.g. Globali?ation AND (Chinese OR China) AND (Compan* OR Corporat* OR Firm*)

More search tips - 1

Use a form (sometimes called "Quick Search", "Advanced Search" or "Form Search") to search if possible.

For example, this is more user-friendly

than this

More search tips - 2

When necessary, in order to make the search more focused, limit the search by

  • Specific search fields (e.g. journal titles, abstracts, subjects)
  • Document types (e.g. scholarly articles, conferences)
  • Year of publication, etc.