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How to search – step by step

Tags: English

Search tools – an overview

Choosing search tools

When you have formulated your search problem and considered what information you need, it is time to choose your search tools.

Search tools may have different characteristics and demand different search methods. You should be aware of the fact that you will get different results depending on which tool you choose and how well you can apply your search technique to the content and structure of that particular search tool.

See Databases A-Z for a list of all the search tools the library offers.

Search services/discovery tools

Search services and discovery tools are services that enable you to search a wide variety of sources simultaneously through one single interface. The university library's search service Primo is such a tool, making it possible to search for printed and electronic books, articles and other publications paid for by the library.

Libris is a national search service which contains bibliographic records of the holdings of Swedish research libraries.

Google Scholar is Google's search service for academic publications. If you enter Google Scholar through Databases A-Z, you can get access to publications the library has paid for in addition to the freely available material from the web.

Article databases

Article databases help you search for articles in a more in-depth and specialized way than with other search services. This kind of database usually contains a better and more updated selection of articles. Furthermore, article databases often offer a structured subject index and thesaurus. Through information about citations, these databases can also provide information about the impact and use of articles. You can read more about citation databases below.

Article databases make it possible to find scholarly articles, but articles from trade magazines may also show up. Often you can limit your search results to scholarly articles with filters like Peer review or Academic/Scholarly Journals. In most article databases, you can use the library's 'Get it' link to access the article in its entirety.

Wheras a subject database contains articles within a specific subject area (for example business, medicine or education), a publisher database gathers together articles from journals published by a certain academic publisher irrespective of the subject area.

Citation databases

Citation databases provide information about how articles refer to a specific author or another publication. Searching in a citation database will result in references to documents that have cited the original reference.  In essence, you are searching into the future, from the publication date of the original source onwards. This means you can also follow how research has developed over time. If you know of an important article, you can see who has cited it, allowing you to find new articles of interest.

Citation databases can also be used to measure the impact of an article. If an article has received several citations from other scholarly journal articles, the implication is that it has had an impact on the research community. However, other factors will also come into play when you evaluate the quality of an article.

The recent development of citation databases has also led to the inclusion of citations from books of greater academic quality, such as anthologies and handbooks.

E-book databases

The university library provides access to several e-book databases in different subject areas. In most cases several users can access the same book simultaneously. In e-book databases you can search for words in the whole text of the books.

The library owns most of the e-books in the databases which means that you can print out and download contents from the databases. In cases where the library subscribes for an e-book database, there are some limitations when it comes to printing, downloading, and simultaneous users.

In databases available through a subscription, titles can sometimes be changed during the subscription period.

Facts databases

In a fact database (data bank), the contents consist of various kinds of facts in the form of numerical data and/or text. Examples include statistics, demographic facts, company information, patents, standards and chemical substances.