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Search Guide

Is what I find of use for my essay?

How you assess the usefulness of the hits in the database results list is at least as important as the search itself. It is often an equally big challenge too. As a student one is not as experienced a writer as the researchers are in their subject, which sometimes means that the student has a narrower picture of which hits are relevant. It’s a question of not being too quick with your scrolling finger! Read the information about each results list hit carefully and consider whether and how it connects together with what you’re writing about.


The research results I found don’t seem to be about what I looked for

Sometimes it can be difficult to decide the relevance of an article or book from the title alone. You can then go back to your results list and check what the database retrieved with help of your search words (they are often marked in some way). Reviewing your results list again, you may find articles or books you earlier just scrolled past. But, on closer scrutiny also they prove to be relevant for you, even though it wasn’t clear from just looking at the title itself. A well chosen search word will do the work for you. However, be careful of search words with a generic nature. These can get a lot of results, but with other meanings or in other contexts than you intended. In that case try another more specific search word.


The research results I found feel almost right but not quite

When you’re looking for literature, close is often good enough! You will never find previous research investigating exactly the same thing you are, and that’s not the point either (other than if your essay is a pure literature study). On the contrary, the differences enable you to justify the new knowledge to which your particular study contributes.

What is most important is that the literature you cite contributes to your own work and to the reader’s understanding of your work. The literature can contribute in many different ways. If you are unsure whether a book or article is relevant, save some info about it (for example title, author’s name) and show it to your teacher/supervisor so that you can discuss the matter together!


If I need more search help?

You can chat with us during the daytime.

You can also get help from a librarian with searches and references. Read more on the web.

If you need help with your writing you can go on to the final section in the Search Guide – Academic Writing.