October 12, 2011

My top tips for a new PhD student, on literature searching

Here is an adapted excerpt from some recent correspondence with a new PhD student at Warwick:

If I were you then I would start by building your list of places you wish to search...

...then look at the keywords you wish to use,

...then start searching in earnest.

Don’t underestimate how long it will take you to do all of this!

Do be organised so that you can refer to your records at a later stage, and set up accounts and alerts as you go along so that you don’t have to do the same searches over and over again.

Do also record places that you choose not to search and why, and keywords that you choose not to use, and why.

There is often a strange, panicky moment when you think you’ve discovered a new source of information or search strategy, a year or two down the line… and then it turns out that you did know about it but had good reasons not to use it then which might still apply or not, as your research evolves.

It’s quite easy to forget what you did at this stage so recording things is important: you’ll probably find your own system for this, although we suggest some useful methods at the RSSP workshops for PhD students:


- 2 comments by 2 or more people Not publicly viewable

  1. Andrew Marsh

    This is very useful for Chemistry final year MChem project students as well.

    I teach a 1-lecture session on Lit Searching to Year 4 when they start their projects – CH401:


    I’ll add a bookmark on my page for the Research Skills site.

    12 Oct 2011, 14:16

  2. Jenny Delasalle

    That’s great. I’m happy for Masters students to book onto the RSSP sessions, or if they are having difficulty in booking, to just turn up.

    12 Oct 2011, 17:16

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