Search for Literature

This tutorial will help you search for peer-reviewed literature and information housed in repositories and other open web resources.

Start with peer-reviewed literature published in reputable journals

The peer-review process is one measure to ensure the quality of the source. These are the most comprehensive databases to find peer-reviewed articles.

  • PubMed – Bio-Medical Literature
    • Limit search to Free Full Text
    • This is the most comprehensive database to find references on health topics.
  • AgEcon Search – Agriculture and Economics Literature
    • Includes sources where agriculture, general environment, and nutrition intersect with health topics.
  • ERIC – Educational Literature
    • Includes sources where education intersects with health topics.
  • Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ)

Next, search repositories and other open web resources


  • Government reports
  • Conference proceedings
  • Business/company reports
  • Pre-prints
  • Theses/dissertations
  • Clinical trials
  • Trade literature

Here are established databases to search:

Also search websites of known and trusted organizations

Look for:

  • Fact Sheets
  • Publications
  • Data
  • Training
  • Resources

Thoroughly search their sites for pertinent information – don’t settle for typing a few keywords in the search box

  • Bookmark pages that have useful information
  • Record information that you want to further investigate
    • For example, are they collaborating with other organizations you’ve never heard of?
    • Record the names of those organizations and look them up separately
  • Read content thoroughly. Identify phrases and keywords you might use for additional searches.

Do a broad search of the internet

Follow through on the notes you made during your initial searches. Search for:

  • Other organizations that were mentioned
  • Specific campaigns or programs that were mentioned
  • Original sources of data you found on a site
  • Information on a topic that is closely related to yours
    • For example, if you’re researching child environmental health, you might see something in your initial search that makes you think you should also research adolescent environmental health

Leave a Reply

Notify of