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Conduct a Literature Review

A guide to walk you through the process of doing a literature review

Quick Start with Google

Google is a great tool to help you get started especially when you are new to a topic. Pick 2-4 keywords from your topic and run a quick search. By scanning the results, you can learn some background information about the subject and the terminology used in the field.

Let's use this topic as an example: "The impact of COVID on the hotel industry in Hong Kong"

Google search

From the initial result list, you can collect some related terms that can be used to refine the search at a later stage. Try to think about what could be alternative keywords authors used in their papers and add them as keywords too. 

Key terms      hotel industry      COVID
Related terms
  • hospitality industry
  • tourism industry
  • travel
  • ...
  • coronavirus
  • pandemic
  • post-pandemic
  • outbreak
  • ...

Can I trust Wikipedia articles?

Wikipedia articles help us gain a quick overview of a topic or subject. Students sometimes get confused about whether they can use the information from Wikipedia for research. A quick answer is, yes, you can - but do make sure that before you use the information in your research, you have

  • verified the source (through its reference list in the end) or done the fact check
  • cited the original source (e.g. entries in the reference list)
Wikipedia article

Tip  Be aware almost anyone can edit Wikipedia articles.

To get background information from more authoritative sources, try Credo Reference database.

Credo is an online collection of short articles selected from published encyclopedias, dictionaries and handbooks.

Check out this guide to learn more sources of finding reference materials.


Watch this video if you want to learn more about how to use Wikipedia for good - to help us get a birds-eye view of content, better evaluate information with lateral reading, and find trustworthy primary sources.

Google Searching Tips

To conduct a more effective search on Google, try using some of Google's search operators to narrow your search.

Here is an example where we use the operator "site:" to limit the search results to HK government sites only (with site domain "").

Tip  To learn the domain of any site, you can simply google the name of the site and then read from the result, e.g. google "PolyU HK", you will learn the university's website domain is "". 

Other popular operators include:

  • intitle:  to find pages with certain words in the title, e.g. intitle:"hong kong"
  • filetype:  to restrict results to those of a certain filetype, e.g. filetype:pdf
  • inurl: to find the websites with a specific keyword in the URL, e.g. inurl:scmp​


To learn more about Google Operators, check out these sites: