Skip to Main Content

Writing A Literature Review: Searching For Resources

This guide provides information and links on how to write literature reviews.

Step 2 : Searching for Resources for Your Literature Review

The second step in the literature review process is to search for and analyze relevant published research on your chosen topic.

Focus your research exclusively on primary, peer-reviewed, scholarly resources. This BCIT Library guide will help you to determine whether or not a resource is a primary, peer-reviewed, scholarly resource. If, after you consider the abovementioned guide, you still have questions, bring the resource or a citation for the resource to a BCIT Librarian for verification.

To begin your search:

  1. Develop a strategy that accounts for what you intend to look for and how you intend to look for it. Specifically, you should think about and articulate the specifics of what you intend to focus on in your research on your chosen topic (see the Identifying a Research Topic of this guide). This focus will have an impact on the type and the scope of materials that you consider in your research and that you report upon in your literature review.
  2. Identify and take note of the tools that are available to you that will help you find research on your topic. Some tools available to you are the BCIT Library catalogue as well as any number of relevant online databases and web resources (for more information, see the Where to Search for Research on Your Topic box on the right). It is highly unlikely that a single too will lead you to all of the relevant research on your topic. Thus, you are likely to use a range of tools over the course of your research.
  3. Assemble a list of keywords and/or search terms that you will use to search on your topic. Start by identifying terms that describe your topic in a general way. Next, focus on more specific terms that describe exactly what you intend to focus on in your research. Finally, identify related terms, broader terms, narrower terms and synonymous terms that you can use to expand or refine your searches.

Be flexible when you create your search strategy and as you conduct your research. It’s likely that your strategy--and, potentially, even your topic--will evolve over the course of your research.

The BCIT Library has created a guide on how to work through a research project. It is recommended that you take a look at this guide before you get started searching for materials for your literature review. 

Where to Search for Research on Your Topic

BCIT Library Catalogue

You can use the BCIT Library catalogue to search for:

  • books & e-books
  • print journals & e-journals
  • DVDs/video recordings
  • audio recordings
  • microfiche
  • standards
  • dissertations/theses


You can use any number of the many online databases available through the BCIT Library to search for:

  • e-journals
    • specific articles from e-journals
  • e-books
    • specific chapters and/or sections from e-books
  • dissertations/theses
  • other digital media including audio and video files

Other Web Resources (including search engines like Google Scholar)

You can use other web resources to search for pretty much anything and everything. When using other web resources, pay particular attention to critically evaluating the resources that you find in order to determine whether or not they are primary, peer-reviewed, scholarly resources.