Discovering information

Finding relevant and reliable information is a key skill that you will need at University and after. Follow the three steps below when searching for information and you could save yourself effort and get better results.

The 3 steps

Discovering information can be split into three stages:

  1. Starting out
  2. Quick search
  3. Advanced search

Read on to find out more about each stage.

Step 1. Starting out

Before conducting a search there are two things to establish.

Step 2. Quick Search

If you only need a limited amount of information about the topic, use Library Search to find books, journal articles and other scholarly material.

Consider what search terms you could use to find relevant literature on your topic. Then try using the filters in the left hand menu to focus your results - for example, try limiting your search results to journal articles only.

Step 3. Advanced search

If you need to make a comprehensive and quality-assured search of the literature on a topic, use a bibliographic database.

A database allows you to search across hundreds of academic publications at once. The most common type of information you will find in a database is a journal article, but some databases also include book chapters, reports and other less common types of information.

Each subject has its own range of databases: have a look at your Subject Support page to see which databases are recommended for your subject. To learn how to use them effectively, have a look at the Effective Research with Databases tutorial.

Front page of the 'Looking beyond your reading list' tutorial, shows a laptop and text. Looking beyond your reading list

Learn how to research beyond a reading list. This tutorial shows you how to use Library Search, and introduces you to subject databases.

A photo of a laptop, book and some glasses illustrating doing some research. Effective research with databases

Learn which are the best tools to carry out research on your topic, and how to use them effectively.

A photo of one of the reading rooms in the Wills Memorial Library. Subject Librarians

For further help with searching for literature please contact your subject librarian, who you can find listed by subject here.

Picture of books and journals. Grey literature

Get help with finding and using grey literature such as reports, blogs, working papers and more.

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