Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Starting your literature review

Information providing guidance on starting a literature review, including resources, techniques and approaches to searching the literature and writing the review.

Key information sources

When searching the literature you should aim to be as comprehensive as possible. This includes knowing where to search. 

While Google Scholar and LibrarySearch can provide good starting places, you will need to move beyond these to comprehensively retrieve relevant literature.

Scopus and Web of Science are two large citation databases that can be important starting points for subject areas particularly in the sciences. Further information on searching these is below.

There are also other databases available and many of these are subject specific. To locate databases relevant to your research area you can consult the Library's Subject Guides or book a Research Consultation with a librarian. 

For your research it may also be important to locate resources outside of academic databases. More information on Grey Literature and other specific types of resources is included below.


Web of Science

Subject databases

Find specific types of material

If looking for these specific types of material the Library has online guides to assist you.

Finding a completed thesis in a related topic to your research, for example, is recommended.

You may find it useful to look at other completed RMIT theses available from the Research Repository.

Find grey literature

Grey literature is material not commercially or conventionally published. It is produced by government, academics, business and industry, in both print and electronic formats. Examples include: conference papers, theses, fact sheets, maps, research in progress, government reports, statistics, etc.

Why use grey literature?

  • Grey literature is an excellent source of recent research in many disciplines.
  • Industry and government bodies often produce grey literature and make it available online faster than other publication types.
  • Using grey literature enables you to see what research other people are producing in your field.

Where to find grey literature‚Äč

Evaluating grey literature

Grey literature does not go through the same peer-review process as a commercial publication, so it's important to check it for quality. Evaluate it like any other material. To do this:

  • Consider the author, their affiliations and qualifications.
  • Check reference lists to see who and what other material has been taken into account.
  • Any data collection methods and analysis should be transparent.
  • Examine literature reviews in theses to track search strategies and assess possible biases.
  • Check the date and currency of any information and try to find an update if it is older.
  • Check the dates of references to make sure the authors are not relying on out-of-date information.