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Systematic Reviews for Business and Management: Where to search


A systematic review will involve searching several sources to ensure you have been comprehensive in your search.  The sources you search will depend on your topic area and inclusion criteria.  This page covers some of the sources and approaches you might take to identify research literature including: bibliographic databases; grey literature sources; hand searching and citation tracking.    


How do you currently find information

Where do you currently find information for your research?
Subject Databases: 3 votes (27.27%)
Google or Google Scholar: 7 votes (63.64%)
BCU Summon: 0 votes (0%)
Reference lists: 1 votes (9.09%)
Total Votes: 11

Citation Tracking

Once you have identified your chosen studies to include within your systematic review it can be useful to both review the reference list and determine whether the study has been cited since publication. It is useful to undertake reference/citation searching as an approach to help ensure you have not missed any relevant studies. 
You can use Scopus, Web of Science or Google Scholar to identify studies which have cited your included studies since publication. 

Using Google and Google Scholar

Google searches internet publications including news, blogs, websites, images and media.

Google can be useful for finding company reports, and reports by Government departments and professional bodies.

Google Scholar searches dissertation theses, books/book chapters, abstracts and journals.  But can include publications which would not be considered academic.

Google Scholar can be useful for finding dissertations, looking for conference papers/presentations.  


Bibliographic Databases

You will need to search bibliographic databases individually.  Which databases and how many you choose to search depends on the topic of the systematic review.  There is no recommended number of bibliographic databases to search, though it is usually recommended to search at least two different databases to help ensure that you do not miss any research literature. 

BCU subject guides provide comprehensive lists of relevant databases. 

Grey Literature

Grey literature is any information which is not produced or controlled by commercial publishing (Pisa Declaration, 2014). Examples of Grey Literature include: conference presentations; dissertations and theses; and publications authored by Government departments and non-for-profit organisations.    

When conducting a systematic review in business or management, it is important to include literature that has not formally been published in sources as it helps to prevent publication bias. Searching grey literature is advised by the Cochrane Collaboration and the Campbell Collaboration who produce guidance on systematic literature searching in health and in the social sciences.

Source Where to Search
Conference Papers

Multidisciplinary databases such as Web of Science or Scopus.

Google Scholar.

Professional institution websites or research organizations.


Ethos:  a national aggregated record of all doctoral theses awarded by UK Higher Education institutions with the full-text of as many of these as possible.

Google Scholar.

Library Hub Discover: a record of the holdings of the UK’s National Libraries (including the British Library and the legal deposit libraries), many university libraries, and specialist research libraries.


Relevant Government departments.

Not-for profit organizations.

Library Hub Discover: a record of the holdings of the UK’s National Libraries (including the British Library and the legal deposit libraries), many university libraries, and specialist research libraries.

Google Scholar.


Handsearching involves the page-by-page examination of relevant journal issues, conference proceedings and other publications for relevant studies. In addition, the checking of reference lists of journal articles and other documents retrieved from a search.

Handsearching can be useful as it can: 

  • Locate relevant items which are poorly indexed or not indexed at all. Some databases do not comprehensively index all content in journal issues, or may not index all supplements, special issues, or conference abstracts;
  • Allow researchers to scan content quickly for relevant studies from high-impact journals;
  • Ensure that relevant studies are not overlooked.


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