Searching and managing your literature

Courses for beginning PhD candidates

Course information

Number of sessions: 1
Hours per session: 3
Course fee:

  • free for PhD candidates of the Graduate School
  • €175,- for non-members
  • consult our enrolment policy for more information


Telephone: +31 (0)10 4082607

You can only enrol for one edition of this course.


This three hour workshop focuses on practical aspects of doing your literature review. Topics include:

  • How to prepare your literature search by creating a search profile;
  • Organizing your references: f.i. by creating a RefWorks account or Mendeley;
  • Choice of databases: from general / multidisciplinary (citation) databases to discipline specific sources;
  • Staying up-to-date via alerts on search profiles, RSS feeds or social networks like ResearchGate;
  • Creating your own ‘research information landscape’ by defining top authors and affiliations, top journals, and visualizing keywords with VOSviewer.

Aims and working method

The session will include a mix of a short contextual presentation and some demonstrations of search techniques and databases. The main part will consist of in-class exercises based on your own topic.

Learning objectives

After completion of the workshop you will be able to make efficient use of available sources and tools in order to create a kick start for your thesis. Specifically you will be able to:

  • Document your search process;
  • Plan an appropriate search strategy;
  • Make a choice of relevant databases;
  • Locate and use search filters in databases;
  • Manage your references using bibliographic software;
  • Create your own research information landscape.

Suitable for / entry level

  • The workshop is specifically suitable for 1st year PhD candidates, starting to orient themselves; the course can also act as a refresher course;
  • Some experience of bibliographic database searching would be beneficial to get the most out of the workshop;
  • Participants are not required to bring in their own data sets; a first quick search into your topic is strongly advised, in order to address possible problems during the workshop.

Note that this workshop has some overlap with the first course session of the PhD course "Doing the literature". PhD candidates who have already followed that course should consider this workshop as a refresher of that session.

Preparatory assignments

  • There are no preparatory assignments for this workshop, but in order to actively participate in the workshop you could have a look at the at the training and support portal of the University Library. There you can choose relevant e-modules covering the whole research cycle.
  • Consult the RefWorks course and create a Refworks account
    • On the page select Starting with Refworks and follow the instructions.


PhD information skills

The Erasmus University Library has developed several e-learning modules on, among other subjects, searching and managing your literature. These modules consist of short videos, activating exercises and explanatory texts. The e-modules are complementary to our existing courses on information skills:

More information on the e-modules PhD information skills

About the instructors

Gusta Drenthe is Faculty Liaison Librarian of the Erasmus University Library (UB). She can assist you in handling scholarly information & data for your thesis or research. At the UB she covers research and educational support for the Erasmus School of Social and Behavioural Sciences (ESSB) (Sociology, Public Administration and Pedagogy) and the Erasmus School of Health, Policy and Management (ESHPM).

Judith Gulpers is Liaison Librarian for the Erasmus University Library (UB). At the UB she covers research and educational support for the disciplines Philosophy and Psychology. She supports academic staff and students in the use of library resources and RefWorks through online courses, bespoken training and individual assistance.