Searching and Writing

Begin by formulating your problem

It is always easier to find information if you have prepared specific questions and terms in advance. So start off by analysing your task and formulating your search terms.

Here are some leading questions to help you:

  • What do you need the information for (level, depth)?
  • How are problems formulated in your subject?
  • How can your problem be summarised in a search query?

Try to find different ways of describing your subject or formulating your question. Narrow this down by using individual words or terms. Use an encyclopedia or handbook (subject overview) to find suitable search terms. Regard your search as a process in which you will find better and more adequate search terms as your work progresses. 

If you already have a book, an article or a student paper on your subject area, the reference list is a good starting place for finding additional material. The books used on your course should also prove helpful.

What are you looking for?

Search for information in different kinds of library catalogues, databases or on the internet. Your choice of finding tool, search engine or database will depend on how you have formulated your problem.

The most common information sources are books and articles from journals and newspapers.The most up-to-date research is generally found in research reports and scholarly journals.

The library gives access to a large number of databases. There you can find all types of material – for example articles, e-books, TV-programmes, patents, images and facts – within many subject areas. To find journals and databases within your area, check out our subject guides.

  • Bibliographic databases provide references to articles and other publications. Often, there is a link that gives you access to the article through the library subscriptions. If a link is missing or is not working, you can see if the library subscribes to the journal in the list Journals A-Z.
  • Full-text databases provide references as well as full-text access to articles and other publications.
  • Factual databases provide factual information, such as statistics or country profiles.