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Literature Reviews & Search Strategies

Use Multiple Databases

While not every literature search you undertake will be for a systematic review, the Cochrane Handbook's statement that "a search of MEDLINE alone is not considered adequate" holds true for almost all literature reviews. You need to go beyond one database to get a more comprehensive picture of your topic and to minimize selection bias. 

There are A LOT of databases that you could potential search for academic/scholarly articles to use in your literature review. We recommend focusing on resources that specializes in academic sources (ie databases), rather than a general search tool like Google because a lot of scholarly literature is still not discoverable on the open web and when it is you'll often hit a paywall and have to head to a subscription database available through the library to read the full article any way.

All our databases are listed on the A-Z Databases List, these are a few, often recommended, examples:

Resource Subjects Include (but not limited to) The articles are...
PubMed Medicine, life sciences, behavioral health,  nursing, dentistry, allied health, public health, health policy development, pre-clinical health, biomedicine, and related education.  Abstracts (with links to full-text articles) and embedded full-text articles.
Scopus Chemical science, biological sciences, medical & health sciences, psychology, law, economics, society, education, management, and policy. Abstracts (with links to full-text articles).

Nursing, allied health, consumer health, health science librarianship, alternative/complementary medicine and nutrition.

Abstracts (with links to full-text articles) and embedded full-text articles.
PsycInfo (APA) Psychology, social, behavioral and health sciences, psychiatry, management, education, and social work. Abstracts (with links to full-text articles) and embedded full-text articles.
ERIC Education Full-text articles and links to them.
EMBASE Drug and biomedical, some coverage of dentistry, nursing and psychology. Abstracts with links to full-text articles.
Cochrane Library Evidence-based health and medical topics.  Full-text articles, reviews, protocols, trials and links to them. 
Google Scholar A bit of everything. But they don’t disclose what’s included/excluded. Connect Google Scholar to the MCPHS Library to get full-text articles through us (free to you).


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