IS 6363: Digital Forensics - Systematic Literature Review (Choo)

Tips on conducting literature and systematic reviews in Computer Science and Cyber Security

Identifying Keywords

Identifying proper keywords for searching databases is one of the first steps in your research. You may start with the main concepts in your question or topic and through iterative search process locate additional synonyms to modify your search for more comprehensive or more precise results.

Example topic:  obtaining evidence from smart home apps through digital forensics

1. Start with a simple Google Scholar search, e.g. smart home digital forensics evidence. Review the results. Find an article or two that seem to be relevant for your research topic. Click on Available Now @UTSA link on the right-hand side to access full text if available.

2. Review the article to get ideas for additional keywords representing main concepts from your topic that you may use in further searching.


Focus on the abstract, subject key terms, author assigned keywords, indexing terms, thesaurus, subject headings, and other article metadata to identify keywords. 
smart home evidence digital forensics

home automation

smart sensors

Internet of Things


criminal evidence




network forensics

IoT forensics

cloud forensics

3. Re-run Google Scholar search with additional keywords and operators such as " ". (See search tips on Getting Started page).

"smart home" OR "home automation" AND "digital forensics" AND evidence

4. If your topic is new and not much is written about it, add a broader concept, e.g. "smart home" OR IoT OR "Internet of Things"

5. Apply Date filters on the left to limit results to specific time period. 

6.  Click on Cited By to find articles citing this article.

7.  If you are using EndNote, you may export your citations and articles into EndNote.

8.  Move on to UTSA Databases (see Getting Started page) for more comprehensive searching.

Background Information

Explore the web and literature for background information on your topic to identify additional terms for your search.

For example, specifying a narrow computer forensic field may yield additional or more precise results:

Browser Forensics

Computer Forensics 

Cloud Forensics 

Cyber  Forensics

Data Forensics / Forensic Data Analysis (FDA)

Database forensics

Digital  Forensics

Digital Image Forensics 

Digital Audio Forensics 

Digital Video Forensics 

Email Forensics

Forensic Data Analysis

IoT Forensics 

Malware Forensics

Memory forensics 

Mobile Devices Forensics 

Network Forensics 

Server Forensics

Software-defined Networking Forensics (SDN forensics)