The Literature Search 76-511 Research Methodology
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The Literature Search 76-511 Research Methodology

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The Literature Search 76-511 Research Methodology

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The Literature Search

76-511 Research MethodologyAugust 2018



Katharine Ball

Business Librarian

Room 214B, West Building

Leddy Library


Tel.: (519) 253-3000 ext. 3852


Starting With A Basic Research Question…

What are the key factors that influence recruitment and retention of Millennials in the workforce?


Why might we want to conduct a literature search?

An academic

term; to

find out what research has already been completed and published

Usually you want your research to add something new to the knowledge-base in that field

It might be part of a grant proposal or a Masters/PhD thesis

It helps you to refine your research question; it may lead you to broaden or narrow the focus of your research; it may identify gaps in the research or allow you to identify problems in the literature such as inconsistent findings or issues with the methodologies used


Subject focus

Target cohortTime periodFormat/types of materialsResearch methodologyLanguageGeographic areaOccupational or industrial Sector

What might be some of the parameters of your literature search?

Normally, literature searches aim to be fairly comprehensive – in contrast to most student papers that just focus on identifying and discussing a couple of recent articles

However, you often start the literature search with some implicit or explicit parameters, which are good to recognize. As mentioned earlier, these may change as you progress through the search. When you compile your literature search, you should point out these parameters

Can you give me a few common examples? Which ones apply to our research question?


How do you select the databases to search?

Focus on journal articles:

Look for databases that cover the journals published in the field in which you are interested

Which ones would these be for our research question?

Business Source Complete, ProQuest Business, possibly


For multi-disciplinary topics especially , also search broader databases

Examples: Google Scholar, Scopus, Web of Science

Role of citation indexes, theses (ProQuest Dissertations and Theses), other published bibliographies and literature reviews


Where do you find these databases?


Leddy Library


) home page is the basic starting point.

Go to Search Articles & Research Tools

However, most of the time you can go directly to the

Business Administration

page (


Here you will find the business databases and research guides.

Sometimes you may need to use the

A-Z list




On campus: you should be able to access all the resources without signing on

Off campus: sign on with your UWindsor ID and email password 


Determine the main concepts in your research question and identify keywords

Our Research Question:What are the key factors that influence recruitment and retention of Millennials in the workforce?

What are the main concepts in this research question?





Key Factors?


Identify keywords to search for each concept:

synonyms, related, broader, and narrow terms, variant spellings, opposites

What do you do if you cannot think of any additional keywords?

Search the original keywords from the research question in the databases

Look at the results, and jot down the vocabulary you see authors using in their articles

It is helpful to do this anyway!

You could also try a thesaurus






Hiring Employment

Keeping Turnover

Gen Y Generation Y Echo Boomers

Work Career Job


Market Labor Force

Expectations Motivation Priorities Values Attitudes


How to enter keywords into databases


Returns results that contain any, some, or all of the keywords

Capitalization is often optional (but not with Google or Google Scholar)

Often used to broaden a search by linking synonyms

e.g. fruit OR vegetables

e.g. pot OR cannabis OR marijuana

e.g. recruitment OR hiring OR employment


Returns only results that contain all of the keywords

Capitalization is often optional

Narrows your search

e.g. rivers AND salinity

e.g. sport AND marketing

e.g. millennials AND workforce


Returns results that contain the first keyword but not the second

Narrows your search

e.g. fruit NOT apples

e.g. pets NOT cats

e.g. retention NOT promotion


Returns results that begin with the same keyword stem

The *is the most common symbol usede.g. manag* Will retrieve manage, manager, managers, managing, management, etc.e.g. work* Will retrieve work, workplace, worker, workers, working, workforce, etc.Phrase SearchingReturns results that contain the keywords togetherQuotation marks are used to denote a phrasee.g. “electronic commerce”e.g. “generation y”

Boolean Logic


How to enter keywords into databases

Using parentheses and the order of operations: the search engine will process what is inside the parentheses first

e.g. (automotive OR automobile) AND (incentives OR rebates)

Going back to our research question and the keywords we came up with, can you put together a search phrase? You do not have to use all the keywords at once. Often it is better to do many simpler searches. There will be overlap and duplication in the results, but that can be dealt with. You may want to keep track of your searches, either manually or using search history options within the databases.

E.g. (millennials OR “gen y” OR “generation y”) AND (recruitment OR hiring OR retention) AND (work* OR career*)

E.g. millennials AND (recruitment OR retention) AND work*


How to enter keywords into databases

If the database you are searching has multiple search boxes, then you can put the keywords for each concept into separate boxes


If you have not already tried a live search, let’s do it now!

Go to Business Source Complete


What to do with the results of your search

Scan the results pages. Re-sort and set/reset limits, if necessary

Do a preliminary evaluation of your results. Check the basic citation information presented. Look at the detailed records and read the abstracts, as needed

Select the articles that seem to be a good fit with the focus of your research. If the results are not that relevant, then re-think your search strategy.

Make notes of additional vocabulary that you might want to incorporate into future searches in this database and others

Go to the Print/Save/Email/Download options.

You should always save the citations and full-text as you go along!


When you have finished your initial round of database searches

Once you have finished searching the databases, then you need to get all your journal articles, books, and other materials organized.

You can do this manually, you can use the References function within Microsoft Word, or you can use a variety of free software such as Zotero

Format your citations in APA Style:

This is the most commonly used guide, from Purdue University:

APA Style




It is sometimes difficult to find examples of how to use APA style with business resources. Here are a couple of guides that should help you:

(Bentley University)

(University of Washington)

At this point, you should do a more in-depth perusal and analysis of your materials, in order to decide which are really relevant; you may need to repeat the search process a number of times


Evaluating Resources Found On The Web

There may be times that you would like to include web resources in your literature search.

Remember that anyone can publish online and there is no editing/quality control function. You must evaluate the web resources yourself.

Many University libraries have guides to help you. Here is one from the University of Edinburgh: