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ENG599 Research Skills Guide: Step 3.2 Decide where to search and run searches

This guide is designed to support students completing ENG599


The databases you search depend on your research question and the subject field. Some suggestions are listed below, but do also consult the Library's database list and browse by subject. Remember, you only need to search the most relevant and comprehensive databases in your field.

How many databases do you need to search? Definitely search more than one, and 3-4 are considered necessary for an exhaustive review.

NB - EBSCOhost databases now have a facility for exporting up to 25,000 citations at once into EndNote - if that's what you need to do.  Click here for instructions.


Environmental Studies


Other places to look


These indexes are multidisciplinary as well, and their citation searching functions make a good addition to a comprehensive search.


Grey literature is research that has not been published commercially, such as in academic journals. For that reason, it's not easy to find it using the usual databases and search engines. However, there is a lot of high quality, grey literature which, depending on your topic, could be relevant to your research question and also help to offset possible publication bias, 

Examples of grey literature include government reports, conference proceedings, theses, policy documents and clinical trials. Do be aware that much of it is not peer reviewed, so should be evaluated carefully.

The Library’s guide to Grey Literature covers offers more information, including how to find and evaluate grey literature, and some good sources in different subject areas.


A full systematic review may require even more searching to make sure no stone is left unturned:

  • Hand searching, which involves reviewing the contents of the major journals and conference proceedings in your subject area page by page.
  • Contacting authors of key studies or known experts in the field
  • Checking through reference lists of retrieved articles

Footnote Chasing

Citation searching

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