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How to find information for science or health based literature reviews

1 - You need a plan!

Each literature review is different but a common challenge is how to manage the information you find!

The volume of information grows day by day as more information is published, uploaded into search tools like databases or made available on the internet.

You can see this effect here with a search with the keywords - honey AND wound* - run over time in the database - PubMed:

  • 2nd Jan 2020       honey AND wound*   found 829 articles.
  • 22nd June 2020   honey AND wound*   found 859 articles.
  • 6th Aug 2021       honey AND wound*    found 961 articles.

Let's call the number of articles we find in each search we run... a results set.

A results set of 961 articles may be a manageable amount of information to work with but if we run searches in multiple places e.g. databases, Library Search and web searches... we are likely to find more and more new information in each of the new resources we search! 

Quite quickly, we will need to make decisions on how to manage the information we find.


Manging the information you find will help you!

  • You are less likely to loose information.
  • You have one place to go to find the information you are planning to read or use.
  • You should be able to quickly and easily find the sources you need to cite and reference.
  • You can use tools within referencing management systems like RefWorks to cite as you write and create reference lists for you!
  • If you have any missing details for your references you can very quickly recheck the original source.


Below you can find examples of two ways in which you can manage information:

  • Library Search and favourites
  • RefWorks

2- Find it! Save it! Use it!

Use the Favourites function in Library Search

A quick way to manage the information you find is to pin the items (also known as favourites) using Library Search.

Here you can see a Simple Search in Library Search using the keywords - honey AND wound*.

You can see:

  • we have applied filters to the search - articles, peer reviewed journals and articles from 2000 - 2021
  • this search returns over 10,000 results
  • you can also see a sign in box under the search box with a Sign in link to follow
  • this is a screenshot and not a clickable image


This is a screen shot of Library search with a search for honey AND wound* with filters applied - a date filter, the peer review filter and the article filter. The image includes the Sign In link to sign into Library Search.


To use the favourites option, you must be signed into Library Search before you begin pinning items otherwise you may accidently close your browser without being signed in and then lose the pinned items! 

We can do nothing to help you restore these items if you were never signed in! 

You can also add labels to items, once signed into Library Search, to help keep the items organised. 

Always remember to sign out to make sure your searches remain private and your personal settings cannot be adjusted by anyone else.


This is a picture of a light bulb.                Activity 1

  • Go to Library Search.
  • Run a search using keywords related to your literature review.
  • Sign into Library Search. You are successfully signed in when your name appears in the top right hand side of the screen.

You add an item from your search results into your favourites by clicking on the pin in the Library Search record of the information you are interested in.

You know when you have done this successful as the pin icon spins to your favourites and the background colour of the Library Search record changes for a short time.


How do I remove an items from My Favourites in Library Search?

You can click on the pin icon a second time.

Or click on the Favourites link at the top of the search results page. The Favourite link at the top of the page looks like this: 

This is the pin icon in Library Search.

A list of the items in your Favourites will appear.  Select the pin icon next to the items you want to remove.

3 - How do I access books, journal articles or other resources not available at Hallam Library?

Use the free Document Supply Service

Use the service to request a book or journal article. Document Supply Services have resumed supplying physical copies of books. However, there may be delays in supply times as this is a reciprocal service and is dependent on other libraries resuming their services to supply books

4 - Use RefWorks!

Use a reference management tool to help make your research life easier! 

Think of them as a digital filing cabinet that allows you to manage references from Library Search, subject databases, Google Scholar and the wider web. 

For example, you can:

  • keep track of the sources you use in your research
  • create folders for a range of assignments or topics
  • use the software to create your reference list and your citations
  • you can share folders with others people you are working with
  • use multiple referencing styles

The Library recommends and supports students using ProQuest RefWorks, however this does not mean that you cannot use other reference management software. 

Whichever option you go with, the approach needs to suit the way in which you work and prevent you from losing the information you need and having to re-run searches!


This is a picture of a light bulb.                Activity 2

  • Take a look at the I want to use RefWorks guide to see if using RefWorks is something you want to do.
  • To most benefit from using RefWorks you need to begin using it at the research gathering stage.
  • If you decide you would like to use it, please book on a RefWorks online workshop.

5 - I would like to know more...

Take a break.

Congratulations you have completed the third step.

Time to take a break - maybe write a list of three things that you have achieved today.