Tips for research

BIB 20-010

What you need to know

These tips are important when researching in the library catalogues and databases.

These tools will ensure that your literature search will deliver effective results.

The numbering does not refer to the order in which the steps must be taken, it is simply to give you a better overview of the individual research tools.

What you have to do

  1. Getting started in your search with key terms

    The most important thing to do before beginning your search is to correctly identify the key terms.

    • The quality of your search results will depend on this.

       

    • First create a word list with relevant key terms. Look for synonyms, for related terms and for broader and narrower terms.

    • English is the academic language.

       

  2. Wildcards and truncation

    Look for the stem of the word and use a truncation symbol (e.g. * or $) so that all varient endings of that word will be retrieved.
    Example: Contamina* will retrieve references containing the words: contamination, contaminants, contaminated, contaminate, contaminates

    You can also use a wildcard in the middle of a word (e.g. ?)  if you are not sure how to spell the word.
    Example: colo?r will retrieve references containing the US spelling "color", or the UK spelling "colour"

    • The wildcard symbols will vary according to the search tool you are using. Use the help page to find out what symbol to use.

  3. Search (boolean) operators

    By using boolean operators you can combine your terms:

    "and"    usually results in fewer but more relevant hits by combining various terms (items containing both words will be searched for)
    "or"       broadens your search, e.g. by using synonyms (items containing either or both words will be searched for)
    "not"     limits the search to a particular topic (items containing the keyword will not be retrieved)

  4. Phrase search

    You already know which book or essay title you need? With the phrase search you can search for the book or essay title directly by entering the exact title in quotation marks.

    Example: "electrochemical biosensor"

  5. Keywords (Stichwort) and key terms (Schlagwort)

    Searching by keywords only gives results if the term is in the title. Searching by key terms gives results for a particular topic.

    A key term describes the content of a medium regardless of the title and language. The two types of search will result in a varying number of hits.

  6. Filters and limits

    You can limit your search further by using filters.
    For example, you can filter the results by limiting your search in the library catalogue (OPAC) and the BOSS search portal to the location, or to e-books only.

    • You should be very careful how you use the filter as you can exclude some relevant information.

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