Hello and happy Friday! I’m Megan, a Research Support Officer who joined the team in April 2020. I’m also a PhD student researching in the area of Education. I thought I’d share a #ResearchSupportWin with you all today.
We get queries from researchers around literature searching from time to time and these can vary significantly depending on what field the student is searching in. There are other factors that can also affect a literature search such as, how experienced students are with searching. As a research student myself I know how difficult it can be to find relevant papers to support a literature review.
A student contacted me to ask for help in finding more relevant results from their literature search. They were finding their searches were bringing back hundreds of irrelevant results. I set up a meeting with the student so that they could demonstrate their searching strategy which would help me to identify the problem. It became clear that the topic was an under researched area and therefore, there were few relevant papers available from the outset. However, it was clear the keywords they were using were not specific enough to the research question. Broad search terms often bring up lots of irrelevant papers which can be an overwhelming position to be in.
The student was also only using Google Scholar to conduct their searches. Google Scholar is a great tool but if you are finding your searches are bringing back too many results that aren’t helpful to your research then I always suggest checking out the collection of databases on the Library website. I ended up showing the student some different more subject specific databases that the OU Library subscribe to. I also shared some tips and tricks to get the most out of using them including, citation searching and how to use the subject terms within databases. This guidance enabled the student to find some great papers that they were able to use in their literature review. So, a definite WIN!
Please get in touch with the Research Support Team if you have any queries about databases or literature searching.