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University of Washington Health Sciences Library

ENVH 583: Library Databases and Tools for Research

Guide to resources for thesis proposal research

What is 'the Literature'?

Generally, literature is 

  • Journal articles 
    • New work (e.g. Randomized Controlled Trials, Clinical Trials, etc.) 
    • Reviews (e.g. Scoping Review, Systematic Review, etc. )
    • Editorials
  • Books 

What is Gray Literature?

Generally, gray literature is anything found outside of scholarly literature. It includes the following. 

  • Conference abstracts, papers, and proceedings 
  • Government reports 
  • Pre-prints 
  • Learn more 

Why Read the Literature?

Scientists and researchers read the literature to 

  • Minimizes your chance of re-inventing the wheel
  • Gives you ideas about how to solve your problem – or perhaps what won’t work
  • Gives you a lingua franca for speaking to other researchers
  • Keeps you up-to-date (science evolves rapidly) 

Evaluating Literature

Evaluating information guide


Much of this page's content was adapted from Ken Rice and Lianne Sheppard.

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