Searching the literature - a beginners' guide



Publication Details

Wilson, I. G. (1998). Searching the literature - a beginners' guide. Australian Family Physician, 27 (5), 385-386.


A number of questions will arise as you develop a research question. Has the question you are asking already been answered? Have other attempts been made to answer the question? If so, what techniques have been tried and what problems have arisen? Is there work in this area that will assist in developing your proposal? To find out you need to review the literature, that is, conduct a literature search. The idea of sitting in a medical library reading a few journal articles sounds interesting and easy. It is, but it is not a literature search. With so many medical journals published each year it is necessary to conduct a formal search of the published literature and the advent of electronic databases has simplified the process. However, there are a number of traps for beginners. As a beginner and having made most of the mistakes, I have been asked to write this article so that you can avoid the traps.

Please refer to publisher version or contact your library.