Skip to Main Content

Literature Searching: Introduction

What is a literature search and why is it necessary?

Who is this guide aimed at?

This guide is aimed those of you who are new to literature searching or who need a refresher.

What is a literature search?

A literature search is a thorough and methodical search of all types of literature in order to find quality references to evidence your work.

Why should you carry out a literature search?

Searching the literature is an essential part of your assignment or project as it will enable you to see what other work has already been published on your topic. It can be useful in the following ways:

  • It will provide you with background information on your topic
  • it will enable you to find the evidence you need to answer a question
  • it will give you ideas for your own project because it will allow you to see any gaps in the literature where research and evidence is lacking.

When you have been given your assignment topic, or if you are considering a topic for a research project, work through the search steps on the following pages.

Finding books in the Library

The Library uses the Dewey Decimal Classification system which groups all books according to subject using a 'classmark' made up of numbers; these numbers are usually followed by the first three letters of the author's surname.

Heritage Online (the library catalogue) displays the location, classmark and availability of each item.

Some key subject areas and their Dewey numbers are listed below to help you get started. Please ask staff if you need any help finding books.

Subject Classmark
Research Methods 001.42
Literature reviews / Data Collection 001.433
Medical Research 610.72
Academic Writing 808.066

Key steps in literature searching

Book onto a Workshop