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GSFS 400 Capstone: Engaging Fields of GSFS

A guide to help students conduct a literature review for their final capstone project

Tips for searching for sources for a literature review

While searching for literature on a topic you wish to explore, consider the following :

  1. Searching in a subject-specific database (see database below)
  2. Searching in a multidisciplinary database (see databases below)
  3. Conducting citation tracking to find similar articles (see the section on citation tracking)

Boolean Operators


  • retrieves records that include all of your search terms
  • e.g., diet therapy AND bulimia


  • retrieves records that contain at least one of your search terms
  • e.g., (dog OR canine)


  • retrieves records that contain your first term but exclude your second term
  • e.g., dementia NOT alzheimer's
  • we do not usually recommend that you use NOT in your searches, as you may exclude relevant results

Parentheses and brackets

Use parentheses to set the order of execution of the Boolean logic.

Parentheses work in most but not all systems (e.g., they work on the Ovid, PubMed, EBSCOhost, ProQuest, Scopus, and Web of Science platforms, but can be ignored in other search engines). Try your search with and without the parentheses. If you notice a difference in your search results, the parentheses are likely working.

e.g., (chest OR thorax OR thoracic) AND (imaging OR radiographs OR radiography)

Boolean Operators Video

Boolean operators can be placed between your search terms to narrow or broaden a search, or to exclude search terms.

You will find below a brief video on how to use the boolean operators:

Advanced Google Searching

  • Search within a specific website : 
    • [Insert keyword here] 
    • [Insert keyword here] 
    • [Insert keyword here] / site:gov
    • [Insert keyword here]
  • Search for a specific file type : 
    • [Insert keyword here] filetype:pdf 
    • [Insert keyword here] filetype:ppt 
    • [Insert keyword here] filetype:doc
  • Other advanced Google search techniques : 

Fun fact, this also works in Google Scholar.

What databases for a literature review?

Below is a selection of subject-specific and multidisciplinary database.

Subject-specific databases offer you more precise results and less results, but given that research is more and more interdisciplinary, you may miss important papers, books, book chapters and conference proceedings. 

A multidisciplinary database offers a larger amont of results, but may also yield too many results to analyze. However, you might find research relevant to your topic from other fields of research that are not included in a subject-specific database. 

Gender Studies Databases

Multidisciplinary Databases

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