How do I find literature on a particular subject?
The main literature search methods
There are numerous ways of finding references to literature on a particular subject. You should make sure you use at least these three:
- Ask your tutor if he or she can recommend suitable literature on your subject.
- Use the snowball system:
Use literature lists, such as those which may have been handed out during your courses. Check these lists for appropriate books and see if they contain any relevant bibliographical references. This will lead you to additional titles.
However, please note that the literature you find using this method will become increasingly less current with each step you take. This can be a problem if you are working on a highly topical subject.
- Search for literature systematically:
Think of as many subject-related terms as possible. Pick out the terms most relevant to your subject. Enhance your list of terms:
- with synonyms
- with broader, more inclusive terminology
- with narrower, more limited terms
- with English translations, to enable you to keep track of academic discussions on an international level
Conducting a literature search
Now you can enter your search terms in the various search tools such as online library catalogues, databases or academic search machines on the internet. You will find information on search tools relevant to your subject in the navigation bar on this web page under Subject-specific searching.
Hint: Start your search early enough to leave yourself plenty of time to order any literature you may need. Some titles may be out on loan or may have to be ordered from another library via the interlibrary loans service. Starting well in advance will make sure you are not subjected to too much pressure.