Literature searching

Finding literature is a vital but often complex part of conducting research. This page has lots of useful guidance on where to look for literature and other resources, and how to manage all the information you find.

For help with literature searching contact your Academic Liaison Librarian


  • How to borrow and return items: this information applies equally to PhD students as well as Oxford Brookes staff.
  • Contact your academic liaison librarian through the Course Resource page for discipline-specific support on literature searching.
  • You can get access to libraries other than our own, including the Oxford University Bodleian Libraries and British Library. Our Access to other libraries guide provides further details, including joining information. The guide also links to the Catalogues of other libraries so you can check what resources they have.

Cited reference searching

Cited reference searching allows you to find articles that are related, by finding those an author used when writing their own. You can use it to broaden your research:

  • by working forwards in time (finding out where the article has been cited in more recent work).
  • by working backwards in time (following up the citations or references given in the article).

Benefits are:

  • finding the original work on which a piece of research is based.
  • finding authors working in a similar field.
  • identifying trends in research.

Online citation searching allows easy retrieval of records that have been cited in the selected article as well as those which have later cited that article. A key database that has the facility for citation searching is Web of Science. There are other databases that provide details of cited references, check the help option. Google Scholar also provides citation information for articles, books and other materials

Web of Science indexes articles from key research journals across the sciences, social sciences, and arts and humanities. A useful feature of Web of Science is that it includes the cited references (bibliography) for articles in the database, and you can also search for a specific cited reference.

Cited reference searching on Web of Science

  • Follow the link to connect to the database Web of Science.
  • Log in with your Brookes login - your student number and portal password. Click the connection link.
  • Choose Web of Science from the drop down list next to 'All Databases'.
  • Select the Cited Reference Search option above the search boxes.
  • Complete the details of the author or article in the search box as instructed on the screen and click Search.
  • Details of the articles that match your criteria will be displayed. Select an article for citation information.

It is also possible to set up citation alerts on Web of Science - you will then be emailed every time a new article is indexed which includes the original article in its cited references.

Electronic resources for researchers

  • LibrarySearch: searches many of Oxford Brookes Library's collections together so you get a single set of results, and it can also be used to explore material from libraries worldwide.
  • Databases: help you to trace journal articles and other publications on topics and authors
  • Electronic journals
  • Electronic books
  • Statistical information, including Census data
  • OpenSIGLE: bibliographical references of reports and other grey literature produced in Europe, including details of government publications, technical reports, newsletters, bulletins, white papers, position papers, factsheets, conference proceedings and other publications.
  • Jisc Library Hub Discover: in a single search you can discover the holdings of the UK’s National Libraries (including the British Library), many university libraries, and specialist research libraries (it replaces Copac and SUNCAT).
  • Web of Science: a multidisciplinary database comprising the Arts and Humanities Citation Index (1975-); Social Science Citation Index Expanded covering behavioural and social sciences (1970-) and Science Citation Index Expanded covering natural, physical and biomedical sciences, some engineering (1970-).
  • Journal Citation Reports - citation data from over 7500 journals in science, technology and the social sciences. It identifies the most frequently cited and highest impact journals in a subject area.
  • Google Scholar
  • Course resources: for information about electronic resources in specific areas

Referencing and managing your references

An essential element of your research activities will relate to successfully managing references to the sources, both primary and secondary, that you already have or will need to consult. Developing a systematic approach to this will save you time and heartache when you are writing up.

  • EndNote: reference management software for assisting with studying, research and creating bibliographies
  • Citation guides: including British Standard and Harvard

Special Collections and Archives