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Postgraduate Research Information Skills Modules for coursework

Develop research skills during your postgraduate studies that will continue to benefit you throughout your academic and professional career.

Module 3: Where to find literature

Google is a very useful resource for finding literature to investigate your research topic, but it is only the first of many places you will need to search to find the literature you need. Other specific academic sources of information are available from Griffith Library, and this module will guide you on how to search these sources.

In this module you will learn:

  • How to effectively search library catalogues, journal article and thesis databases, and internet search engines.
  • Features of library catalogues, databases and search engines that will improve your search results.
  • How to stay up to date with research in your field.
  • How and when to use the library's interlibrary loans service.

3.1 Library catalogues

Library catalogues provide access to information located on library shelves or found in electronic databases. The Griffith library catalogue can help you find a range of resources including: journal articles, book chapters, conference papers, print books, ebooks, DVDs, CDs, video and audio streams. The Library catalogue in most cases is your best starting point for literature.

Griffith Library Catalogue

To use the Library catalogue:

  • Access the Library catalogue
  • Find tips on searching the Library catalogue.
  • Delve deeper into the catalogue with an advanced search.
  • Find tips on using the advanced search function.

Limiting and refining searches and results

  • The library catalogue makes use of search limiting and result refinements.
  • Try out the pre- and post-search limiting and refinement options found on the left side of the search results screen.
MORE features of the Library Catalogue

From the Library home page via the library catalogue search box. Access the "More" option to search for:

  • Theses
  • Statistics
  • Standards and patents
  • Newspapers (new and historical)
  • Images 
  • Encyclopaedias and dictionaries.

Search box with More options

3.2 Journal article databases

As a Griffith researcher, you have access to many journal article databases across all the subject disciplines studied at the University. A full list of our journal article databases is available at the following location:

The databases link can also be found via the library catalogue search box.

General advice on using journal article databases

Journal article databases will present a search interface to enter your keywords and phrases into either a:

  • Single line search box (like Google)
  • Multiline search box with built-in Boolean operators
  • A single line search box will accept individual keywords and phrases as well as search statements like:  (climate or weather) and rain and "damaging winds"
  • A multiline search box is more flexible, but typically you add a single keyword or phrase per box then use the drop down

Search in the same manner as you would in a library catalogue, The boolean operators and the search limiters shown in Module 2 will work in the databases. Build your search incrementally to make it easier to troubleshoot if things go wrong. Most databases have inbuilt refinement tools, limit by date, full text and peer review.

3.3 Google Scholar

Google Scholar is another powerful resource that is going to help you find literature for your research. It provides access to scholarly content, journal articles, academic book chapters, conference papers and other published material. A lot of journal article databases push their content into Google Scholar but typically you cannot get the full-text unless you pay for it, or have access via a subscription from Griffith Library or another institution.

General advice on using Google Scholar:

Before you search, setup Google Scholar in your browser to work better for you:

  • Go to Settings, Library links and add Griffith University to see full-text links in your search results.
  • Go to Settings, Search results and change the Bibliography manager option to Endnote to see import citation links in your search results.

Boolean operators can be used in Google Scholar:

  • The use of AND is implied and automatic.
  • To use the OR operator it must be capitalised like: Car OR Automobile.
  • The NOT operator is represented by a minus sign like: Weather -rain.
  • Phrase searching uses quote marks like: "Climate change".
  • Advanced search is available with lots of options to limit results. This is highly recommended to avoid having to deal with millions of results.