Part I: Prepare search

I.1 Identifying needs

The first step on the way to a successful literature research is to determine the information needs: Make clear for what you need the information for. Only then you can select the appropriate information tool and adapt the scope and accuracy of your search to the purpose.

  • Title search: Search by a list of literature (e.g. recommendations of your department)

    If the literature you need is already summarized in a literature list, a formal search in library catalogues will suffice.
  • Thematic literature search, e.g. for the preparation and follow-up of a lecture.

    To get a first overview of a topic, you should use e.g. reference books, textbooks, encyclopedias, handbooks, introductions. All titles can usually be found in your local library's stock - search in the local library catalogue.

    In addition, a search in Google or Wikipedia can provide a first entry point.
  • Thematic literature search, e.g. for a project, seminar or final paper

    Depending on the importance of your work, a comprehensive search for books, articles, proceedings, congress reports is important to varying degrees. For the final thesis, the inclusion of all possible means of information is indispensable.

    It is advisable to start the literature search at the beginning of your writing project.

    Specialist databases or virtual libraries offer a comprehensive range of resources.

    The search in the literature database is usually followed by a catalogue research to determine the location of the found literature in your local library. Literature that is not available there can be ordered via interlibrary loan.

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