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How do I research Information Systems topics: Literature Review

Guide to researching information systems topics.

1. Develop Search Plan

In developing your plan ask yourself a number of questions, e.g.,

  • Where would I find the information I need?
  • What type of resource do I need, book, scholarly articles etc?
  • How much time do I have?
  • How will know if the information I discover is up-to-date and authoritative?

2. Search Effectively

Build search strings:

List keywords. Keywords are identified from your research statement and are the specific and important words/phrases describing your topic. Keywords need to be tested and possibly modified as your search progresses.

The challenge is to explore any other words that describe the same meaning to your topics, or larger topic or subtopics. You can also use connectors and symbols to form search strings to catch relevant information. The table blow explains how to use operators and connectors to form your search strings:






Narrow your search.

A and B: Both A and B must be present.

Broaden your search.

A or B: Either A or B is present.

Eliminate unwanted results.

A Not B: A is present but B.

Search variation of a word.

Truncation: search for the variant ending of a word
Wildcard: search for variant spelling of a word

Search a phrase. Content in "" must appear as a phrase.

information AND management



Truncation: collabor* - collaboration, collaborating, collaborative etc.

Wildcard: wom?n - woman, women

"information systems"

You need to check individual databases to verify the proper symbols to use. Check out the Power Search slides below for more details.

Choose research resources:

You can search from the library homepage for books, or choose particular databases to look for your information, or use e-journals. Check out Information Systems Research Navigator for details.

Search in databases:

Normally you start using keyword and subject searches. Within the search results you can refine the results to meet your particular requirements e.g., scholarly articles, full-text, and document type etc. Look around the search screen to see what options are available.  Put restrictions on what you will retrieve in order to make your search results more relevant.

You can also choose to search in the fields to restrict where to look for your search terms e.g., keyword, title, abstract, and full text etc. The available fields are usually found in a drop-down menu to the right of your search box.

3. Evaluate Information

Not everything you find can be used in your paper. You need to measure the resources against Authority, Coverage, Currency, Author, and Relevancy.

If you find Too Much Information

  • Use more specific keywords and boolean operators
  • Check where the search terms matched e.g., title, abstract, or full text
  • Limit your search to a specific type of information e.g., journal articles or books
  • Limit it by a specific date range
  • Limit it by a specific format Scholarly or Peer Reviewed

If you find Too Little Information

  • Check your spelling
  • Get rid of long phrases
  • Use alternative terms
  • Broaden your search terminology
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