How to do a literature search outside of academia

Updated: July 3, 2015

Following graduation, I have found it useful for my personal research and professional development to have continued access to ‘library and information science’ online databases.  Although I no longer have access through Loughborough University where I studied, and have limited access through the University of South Wales because library science is not taught here, I would still have access to relevant databases through membership of the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals.  CILIP provides access to, for example, SAGE Research Journals, Library and Information Science Abstracts (LISA) and Proquest Library Science.

Of late I have been thinking about what would be available to a graduate of our Business School to help them stay informed beyond their time here?   What do you do when you no longer have access to Business Source Premier, Emerald Insight, Key Note, Leisure Tourism Database, Mintel Oxygen Academic, Proquest Psychology Journals, ScienceDirect, Web of Science, etc.? 

To add to this dilemma, I have recently received enquiries from prospective students needing to write research proposals as part of their applications.  How can they do an effective literature search/review when they don’t have a university account yet? 

This prompted me to start a discussion with other business librarians, and between us we have devised the following checklist as a starting point:

  1. If you are a member of a professional body, find out what database access and library services are offered to its members.   Does your workplace also have a library service?
  2. Find out what library services are available to alumni for all previous universities studied at.
  3. Does your nearest university’s library allow the general public “walk-in access” to e-resources? NB. this service is available in Wales at Cardiff Metropolitan University, University of Wales Trinity Saint David, and at selected Cardiff University libraries.
  4. Do you live or work in London?  If so, find out what the British Library Business & IP Centre in St Pancras can offer on-site.   Also, the City Business Library in Aldermanbury is open to all.
  5. Do you live in England? If so, is the British Library Business & IP Centre National Network available in a city near you?
  6. Do you live in Wales?  If so, you can register for free access to the National Library of Wales‘ external e-resources (National Library of Scotland and National Library of Ireland offer a similar service).
  7. Find out if any public  libraries near you are part of Access to Research – a public library initiative that came into operation in January 2014.  Over 1.5 million academic articles are available, free of charge, in participating public libraries across the UK.  In September 2014 Rhondda Cynon Taf libraries joined this scheme.
  8. Try an institutional repository search to uncover a wealth of academic, educational and research ‘open access’ web resources.  For example, CORE allows you to search across UK academic repositories, or try the Bielefeld Academic Search Engine  for a global search.
  9. Try searching Google Scholar (although it could prove expensive if required to pay for access to articles), the Directory of Open Access Journals and the British Library’s Management & Business Studies Portal.

My thanks to colleagues at the British Library, Cardiff University, City Business Library, University of Brighton, University of Exeter, University of Hertfordshire, University of Liverpool, Swansea University and University of the West of England for their help in compiling this checklist.

This entry was posted in Alumni, British Library, Continuing Professional Development, Libraries, Research Proposals, Wales, Walk-in Access. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to How to do a literature search outside of academia

  1. Sam Oakley says:

    Great post – thanks! We also get this kind of query and this is a very useful summary.

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