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Databases and Centres

There is no single, comprehensive source that will fulfill all research needs so it will be necessary to consult a number of different sources in different formats (print, electronic and multimedia):

  • Key scholarly formats: peer-reviewed journal articles, conference papers, reports, books, systematic reviews, etc. 
  • Key unpublished formats: grey literature, working papers, government reports, conference posters, blogs, etc. 
  • Theses and dissertations: note that theses and dissertations have opposite meanings in North America.
  • Key authors: some databases like Scopus rank authors, institutions and countries work ot times cited.

The databases you use for your searches will depend on your topic. If you're searching for education resources, the following databases should form at least part of your search. Although you have access to many databases, there are some databases that are core to the subject of education, and very strongly focused on the subject (rather than covering a wide range of subject areas).  Go to Databases A - Z to find the following:

  • British Education Index (BEI) (EBSCO).                                             
  • ERIC (Proquest).
  • Australian Education Index (AEI) (Proquest).
  • Child Development & Adolescent Studies (EBSCO).
  • Education Abstracts (EBSCO).
  • Educational Administration Abstracts (EBSCO).
  • Proquest Education Database.

Other useful but more wide-ranging databases include:

  • PsycINFO. 
  • Scopus.
  • Web of Science.‚Äč

Grey Literature

A systematic review should include a search for unpublished materials as well as published materials.  Grey literature is literature which is not formally published. It includes:

  • reports, working papers, documents, pamphlets, etc.
  • conference papers or posters.
  • theses and dissertations.
  • technical notes.
  • standards.

You can find grey literature in some databases and in the following resources:

For more information about official publications, please check out the IOE Official Publications LibGuide and check out UCL pages for Search Tools for Grey Literature.

King's College also have a Searching for Systematic Reviews LibGuide which features a page on grey literature.

Reading Lists

Consider these steps if you are searching for items on reading lists.

Step 1. Check Moodle first. You may find that some of the readings have been digitised and will be downloadable from Moodle.

Step 2. Search for your course code in UCL Explore - this will take you to the link to your course reading list. 

Step 3. If you find an item in Explore and it is checked out, you can 'Place a request' and the item will be held for you when it is returned.

Occasionally our ebooks will be unavailable if too many people are using them at the same time. When possible, read ebooks online rather than downloading.

The library aims to hold multiple copies and/or ebooks for Reading List items. We are happy to pass on new reading lists to our Acquisitions librarians and we keep a close eye on reserves in order to buy additional copies.


You find books on Explore by searching with author, title or keyword (or a combination of these). Keys to identifying books are the publisher and place of publication.

  • Hargreaves, A. and Shirley,  D. et al. (2009). The fourth way: the inspiring future for educational change. Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Corwin.

Book chapter

You can find chapter references by the book's main author/editor, keyword or the title of the book (or a combination of these).

  • Hargreaves, A. (2010) ‘Change from without: lessons from other countries, systems, and sectors.' In Hargreaves, A. ed. et al. Second international handbook of educational change. Springer international handbooks of education: 23. Dordrecht; London: Springer. pp.105-117.


You can find journals on Explore as well. Keys to identifying journal articles are the volume, issue and page numbers.

  • Goodson, I. F. (2010). ‘Times of educational change: towards an understanding of patterns of historical and cultural refraction.’ Journal of Education Policy 25 (6), pp. 767-775.

While most students will be working on narrative or literature reviews in their research, advanced researchers may be required to carry out systematic reviews which focus on a single question that identifies, selects, synthesizes and appraises the research relevant to their question. Systematic reviews often require multiple authors. They may take months or even years to finalize. 

A very useful introduction to systematic reviews can be found on a King's College Library Guide, Searching for Systematic Reviews.

Also useful is the title, An Introduction to Systematic Reviewswritten by staff at the EPPI-Centre. 


Cover of An Introduction to Systematic Reviews

EPPI-Centre at UCL Institute of Education

The EPPI-Centre informs policy and professional practice with sound evidence and is involved in two main areas of work:

  1. Systematic reviews: This includes developing methods for systematic reviews and research syntheses, conducting reviews, supporting others to undertake reviews, and providing guidance and training in this area. 
  2. Research use: This includes studying the use/non-use of research evidence in personal, practice and political decision-making, supporting those who wish to find and use research to help solve problems, and providing guidance and training in this area. 

chronological list of systematic reviews provides details of individual reviews while the Index to the Knowledge Library allows users to "search for the key messages within specific subject areas to which EPPI-Centre reviews have contributed".

PROSPERO at University of York, Centre for Reviews and Dissemination

PROSPERO includes protocol details for systematic reviews relevant to health and social care, welfare, public health, education, crime, justice, international development, and any other subject where there is a health related outcome.

Theses and Dissertations

Proquest Disssertations & Theses (Global), also known as Index to Theses, is the most comprehensive source of doctoral theses from the UK, Ireland and other countries around the world with coverage from 1716 onwards. Some of the references are full-text; others provide a preview of the abstract and table of contents. You can find this on the A - Z of Databases.

OpenGrey is System for Information on Grey Literature in Europe, an open access system to 700.000 bibliographical references of grey literature produced in Europe. It  includes technical or research reports, doctoral dissertations, some conference papers, some official publications, and other types of grey literature.

RIAN, for Irish research, is a portal of open access research publications from seven, Irish university libraries. Searches can be filtered to masters' and doctoral theses.

For more international sites for theses and dissertations, go the the IOE Theses and Dissertations LibGuide.