A literature search is a systematic survey of the research that's been published on your topic. You'll need to:
Ask a librarian if you get stuck at any point in your literature search.
What are you looking for?
At this point, you should have your research question and some familiarity with your topic. Write out your research question, isolate your key terms and write out as many synonyms as you can think of for each term. Doing this helps ensure that you are surveying the literature, not just finding relevant articles.
Where are you looking?
You should search in several databases. Again, this helps ensure that you are surveying the literature, not just finding relevant articles. PubMed is a good place to start for most searches. Consider the databases below, as well.
Ovid, like PubMed, searches MedLine. Coverage is similar, but not identical, which makes it a reliable way to double check your PubMed search found everything.
Avoid looking through duplicates by using the advanced search option to exclude PubMed results.
Scopus covers a much wider range of subjects than PubMed. It includes life sciences, health sciences, physical sciences, social sciences, and the arts and humanities.
Use Scopus if your topic is interdisciplinary.
Depending on your topic, you may want to search for grey literature. Grey literature is published and unpublished material that is not controlled by commercial publishers. It can include conference papers, scholar's blogs, data sets, clinical trials, government reports, and lots more.
The New York Academy of Health publishes a Grey Literature Publisher List. It's a good place to start if you're thinking about including grey literature.
Having trouble finding relevant resources? Finding the same articles over and over?