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Literature Reviews: 2. Collect sources

Manage your references!


Collect the most relevant peer reviewed articles and books

The two most useful tools for finding books and articles are (a) the UC Library Catalog/WorldCat Discovery and (b) the library databases of electronic journal articles.

Before you search them, spend a minute thinking about the best terms to use. Make a list of alternative words that describe your subject, and also think about general terms and more specific terms. This is important because the journal databases are good for finding very specific terms in articles, but the library catalog tends to use more general terms.

The library catalog

To access the library catalog, click here.

If you find a relevant book or e-book reference, look for the "View Description" link and you will find the subject terms the library catalogers have assigned to it. Click on that term to call up more books just like the one you have found.

A quick way to check the relevance of any books you find is to glance at the table of contents (also in "View Description"). Try the "Search Within" feature of e-books to look for your specific keywords within the text.  E-book chapters and pages can be saved to RefWorks or other citation management tools by using the Cite icon in the book's catalog listing.


The library’s journal databases are particularly helpful for literature reviews. Journal articles are short and cover very specific topics, so they are more digestible than books and more likely to deal exactly with your topic. They are also quicker to publish than books and so are more likely to be up to date.

Many of these databases allow you to restrict your search to “Peer Reviewed” journals only – these are the most scholarly journals, for which each article has to be vetted by other academics before it is accepted.

Many of our databases are Full Text – so you can usually get the whole article on your desktop for downloading, e-mailing or printing. You may also export references from the databases to your RefWorks account or other citation management tool.  Look for an "Export", "Cite" or "Save" option (different databases use different terminology for this function - see the box below for examples).

While you can search the journal databases as simply as you search Google, you can also type in very precise searches by using AND, OR, & NOT operators.  You can also limit your search to articles published within a certain time period, or of a certain type (research articles, review articles, case studies and so on).