Skip to Main Content
Chat loading...

Literature Review Challenge

Welcome to Day 5 of the Literature Review Challenge!

You made it! We're on the last day of the challenge!

Today we will look at:

  • Adding appropriate limits to your search
  • Understanding the Peer Review process
  • Refining your search by expanding or narrowing
  • Finding full text

Add limits to your search

All databases have easy ways to refine by adding common limits, such as:

  • Date range - many faculty require resources published with the last 5 - 10 years
  • Peer Review - learn more about what this is, below

You might want to add additional limits, such as:

  • English and any additional language(s) you can read

DO NOT limit by Full Text. We'll get to that below!

Peer reviewed articles vs. scholarly sources

Peer Reviewed Articles

  • Group of experts in the author's discipline reviews and evaluates an article to ensure quality
  • Often double-blind, so reviewers' & author's identities are concealed from each other 
  • High level of rigor
  • When you limit for peer reviewed in a database, you're typically actually limiting to peer reviewed journals. So you might find book reviews or letters to the editor. However, all the research articles will be peer reviewed.

Scholarly Sources

  • Intended for academic audience, usually within specific field
  • Authored by academics, specialists, or researchers in the field (not by journalists). Includes author's credentials

NOTE: Although the term peer reviewed & scholarly are often used interchangeably, some scholarly works are not peer reviewed (such as dissertations, books, and book chapters), but all peer reviewed articles are scholarly.

POINTING FINGERWatch the quick video from NC State University Libraries below for an explanation of what Peer Review is.

Narrow results under 80

The number of results should be under 80 to ensure you find relevant results, rather than just wading through unrelated items.

How to narrow results:

  • Go back to your Venn diagram from Day 2. Use term from another circle and add it to your first two terms. Keep adding terms to narrow results.
  • Or, try narrowing one of your terms. If you are searching for a broad topic, like "students", perhaps try searching instead for something specific, such as "undergraduates" or "graduate students". 
  • Some databases have additional limits. Ovid for APA PsycInfo allows you to limit by methodology & age range of participants, for example.

Too few results? Expand

If you have too few results:

  • Use broader or related terms using the connector, OR. (Remember: Using OR will give you MORE results). Use the database's Thesaurus to help you find subject terms.
  • Try a different database. Maybe the database you're using is not focused on that area. Try one more suited to your topic, or try an interdisciplinary database (see Day 3 of the challenge).

One of the hardest struggles with research is finding the sweet spot between too many or too few results. This can be a great time to make an appointment with a librarian.

Find Full Text

You'll often see a link to Full Text in the databases. 

If there is no PDF nor a link to Full Text, note what type of resource you found.

Click 360 Link Check for Full Text

Ensure you have pop ups allowed. This will take you into the Catalog to search for the specific citation.

Click Full Text Online, which will take you to the full text of the article through one of our databases.

Getting full text from interlibrary loan (ILLIad)

If the Catalog shows that we do not have access to that article, you may request it via ILLiad. To learn more about using ILLiad, see the guide below.


pointing finger

Limit your database search by peer reviewed journals, last five years, and the language(s) you read. Find the full text of at least one relevant article or request a relevant article via ILLiad.