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Literature searching for science & technology

This guide is aimed at School of Science & Technology students who are starting work on a literature review for their dissertation or project.

Evaluating your material

You will need to be selective and critically evaluate any material you use. Things to look out for are:

Who is the author?

  • Are they an expert in the field? Check what else they have written and see if you can find a biography.
  • Are they an academic, a professional or a lobbyist?
  • Could they have a bias? Look at the language they have used.
  • Have they included a list of references?

Is the provider reliable?

  • Is this self-published? Books can be self-published as well as websites and blogs.
  • Do you know the publisher? What else have they published, are they recognised academic works? How long have the publishers been working in the field, do they have a good reputation?
  • Are there political allegiances or company sponsorships? This can be evidence of bias.

How current is the material?

  • When was the material written? Don't forget, books can take several years to be written and published, and peer-reviewed, academic articles will take longer to be published than a general news article.