Plan your search

Before you start searching, you should consider your information retrieval needs.

If you are searching before writing an essay, you usually need to search several different search tools and databases. Printed materials, e-books and articles in databases can all be useful.

  • Do you have any prior knowledge of the subject?
    If you have no previous knowledge, it is a good idea to search manuals, encyclopedias or the internet. There you can get an orientation of terms and concepts in your subject. This helps when selecting keywords for search tools and databases.

  • What is the purpose of your information retrieval?
    Do you just want to make a short factual search or do you need to search for what has previously been published in your subject area before writing an essay?
  • What do you want to find out? Where can it be found?
    Do you want to see how a debate has been described in the press? Or do you want to find a research background in scientific articles?

  • Any particular language?
    A great deal of academic material is published in English.

  • Time and geographical limits.
    Does your information need to be very topical? Do you want to set geographical limits?