Where to source material



- When searching for your systematic review, your search should be as comprehensive as possible and should include published and unpublished sources.

- Using library databases, grey literature and other peer reviewed material is always recommended when searching for source material.

Visit the Database listing on the MTU Library website to view our full range of academic databases across all subject disciplines.


Where to Search for Primary Studies


Selecting sources to search

The database selection will depend on the research question and the discipline in which relevant research may be conducted. Here is a full list of all MTU library databases across all disciplines, which will help you find source material for your systematic review.


Examples of Database Sources for Health related disciplines



PubMed comprises more than 35 million citations for biomedical literature from MEDLINE, life science journals, and online books. Citations may include links to full text content from PubMed Central and publisher web sites.


Medline Complete:

The MEDLINE Complete database is widely recognized as the premier source for bibliographic and abstract coverage of biomedical literature. MEDLINE encompasses information from Index Medicus, Index to Dental Literature, and International Nursing, as well as other sources of coverage in the areas of allied health, biological and physical sciences, humanities, and information science as they relate to medicine and health care, communication disorders, population biology, and reproductive biology.

CINAHL Complete

CINAHL is an authoritative source of full text and bibliographic information for the professional literature of nursing, allied health, biomedicine, and healthcare, dating back to 1937. Full text material includes nearly 800 journals plus legal cases, clinical innovations, critical paths, drug records, research instruments and clinical trials.


Clinical Key streamlines access to consistent, evidence-based information to help clinicians and health care professionals. From quick answers at the point of care to leading full-text reference material, it delivers trusted content to support clinicians and those in training who need to:

- Stay abreast of rapidly expanding clinical knowledge

- Quickly confirm diagnosis and treatment information

- Advance critical thinking skills and research


Examples of Database Sources for Humanistic Social Sciences

APA Psych Articles is the American Psychological Association's (APA) database resource for comprehensive and essential coverage of full-text, peer-reviewed articles published by the APA Journals™ and affiliated journals.


Social Science Premium Collection

This collection provides access to databases covering international literature in social sciences, including politics, public policy, sociology, social work, anthropology, criminology, linguistics, library science, and education. Featured databases include IBSS, Sociological Abstracts and Worldwide Political Science Abstracts. Together, they provide abstracts, indexing and full-text coverage of journal articles, books, book chapters, dissertations, working papers, and more.


Taylor & Francis Online

Provides access to more than 2,700 high-quality, cross-disciplinary journals spanning Humanities and Social Sciences, Science and Technology, Engineering, Medicine and Healthcare.



ScienceDirect provided by Elsevier covers natural and technical sciences, life sciences and medicine, as well as in the humanities and social sciences. The database contains information about several thousand journals and books published by Elsevier.


EBSCOHost Collections Portal:

EBSCO databases provide multi-disciplinary access to e-books, e-journals and a variety of proprietary full text databases and popular databases from leading information providers.The comprehensive databases range from general reference collections to specially designed, subject-specific databases.EBSCOhost offers the ability to select the databases you want to search by database name or by subject area and allows you to search across multiple databases simultaneously. 

View MTU Library's full list of online databases to see what resources are most applicable to your Systematic Review.



Grey Literature

Over-reliance on published data can sometimes introduce bias in favour of positive results. Studies with positive results are more likely to be submitted to journals, published in journals, and therefore indexed in databases. This is publication bias and systematic reviews seek to minimise its effects by searching for Grey literature.

Grey literature can be defined as "an important primary source of information and is published in diverse formats and levels. It includes various information resources that are either unpublished or published in non-commercial form. Grey literature is mainly produced and published by government agencies, research and development institutions, organizations and associations. The literature produced by these bodies is available in the form of articles, reports, working papers, newsletters, government documents, speeches/lectures, white papers, plans, fact sheets, maps, newsletters, policy documents, conference proceedings, theses/dissertations and other formats" (O'Connor, S, & Gupta, D. 2021 p.69)

Grey literature refers to materials and research produced by organizations outside of the traditional commercial or academic publishing and distribution channels. Common grey literature publication types include Reports (annual, research, technical, project, etc.), Working Papers, Government Documents and White Papers.

Organizations that produce grey literature include government departments and agencies, civil society or non-governmental organizations, academic centres and departments, and private companies and consultants.


Hand searching

'Hand searching refers to 'a manual page-by-page examination of the entire contents of a journal issue or conference proceedings to identify all eligible reports of trials' (Cochrane Manual, section 1.3. 1 Handsearching).

Handsearching journals and conference proceedings can provide a complimentary alternative to searching library databases for two reasons:

(1) Not all trial reports are included in electronic bibliographic databases,

(2) Even when they are included, they may not contain relevant search terms in the titles or abstracts or be indexed with terms that allow them to be easily identified as trials.



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