Searching and managing your literature

Methodology courses and philosophy of science

Course information

Number of sessions: 1
Hours per session: 4
Course fee:

  • free for PhD candidates of the Graduate School
  • € 230,- for non-members
  • consult our enrolment policy for more information


Telephone: +31 (0)10 4082607

In the academic year 2023-2024 this course will take place online and offline.

Edition 1 (online)

October 4 (Wednesday) 2023
Online (Teams)

Edition 2 (online)

April 2 (Tuesday) 2024
Sanders building (campus map), room 1-10


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

  • How to prepare your literature search by creating a search profile;
  • Choosing bibliographic software (for example RefWorks or Mendeley);
  • Choosing databases: from general / multidisciplinary (citation) databases to discipline specific sources;
  • Staying up-to-date via alerts on search profiles;
  • Using tools to locate the full-text of journal articles (for example Unpaywall and Library Access);
  • Creating your own ‘research information landscape’ by defining top authors and affiliations and top journals;
  • Creating a visualization of (for instance keywords in) your literature corpus with VOSviewer.

Please note that the course will use and explain particular tools and databases which are made available to students from Erasmus University. If you are not from Erasmus University, please contact the lecturer before enrolling in the course to check whether you can also access these tools and databases via your own institute, and more generally if the course can still be useful for you. 

Aims and working method

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

The topics covered will (partly) depend on the background of the attendees. The instructor will contact you shortly before the workshop.

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;
  • A first quick bibliographical 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 (systematic) literature review". PhD candidates who have already followed that course should consider this workshop as a refresher of that session.

How to prepare

For external participants, attending the course requires:

  • Patience when explaining EUR specific tools, like EZproxy, Lean Library
  • Contact Judith Gulpers prior to the course so she can check the databases and tools you have access to at your home institution

There are no other 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 (EUR participants only). There you can choose relevant e-modules covering the whole research cycle.


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

Judith Gulpers is Liaison Librarian for the Erasmus University Library. At the Library she covers research and educational support for the disciplines Philosophy and Psychology. She supports academic staff and students in the use of library resources through online courses, bespoken training and individual assistance, for example with the use of ORCID, a persistent identifier for researchers.