Social Work *: Literature Searches: Strategies and Techniques

Randall Information Center | USC School of Social Work

Literature Searches

Why do a literature search? 

  • Find materials that are relevant to the topic
  • Overview of what is known about a topic and what has already been researched


Keywords and Search Strategies

Evaluating Information

Citation Managers

Web-based citation managers that allow you to import references from text files, web sites or online databases. 

Finding Dissertations

Search USC Digital Library or ProQuest Dissertations & Theses to find USC dissertations.  

If you have trouble locating a dissertation, contact Wayne Shoaf at or ph. 213-740-4090 or John Juricek at or ph. 213-740-2931.

Non-USC Dissertations

ProQuest Dissertations & Theses is also a good source for locating digitized dissertations produced at other universities in the United States.

In addition, more and more universities no longer require students to deposit their dissertations with ProQuest so you may want to search for an university's institutional repository via Google and search within that digital collection for a particular publication.

Finding Grey Literature

Grey literature can include

•Materials and research produced by organizations outside of the traditional commercial or academic publishing
•Conference proceedings
•Published reports or datasets
•Government documents

Recommended resources for searching grey literature:



Reference Books: finding background information

Use these resources as references to find background information on a topic:


Using USC Libraries Search

Check out the tools below to learn more about navigating the USC libraries search system. You can access USC libraries search here: