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Training ISS premaster Academic Skills: Introduction

This libguide

This LibGuide is made for students in the premaster track for the Interdisciplinary Social Science (ISS) masters Social Challenges, Policies and Interventions (SCPI) and Youth Development and Social Change (YDSC).  It can also be used by other international premaster students from other social science disciplines.
This training LibGuide offers support in the various steps that need to be taken in searching for, finding and using scientific literature.

In this process you usually go through the following steps:

  • define the subject
  • generating search terms
  • choose search systems
  • search for literature
  • evaluate search results

This LibGuide contains several pages or tabs. Each tab deals with a specific part of your search strategy (see top bar).
You will also find an assignment for practice at the top of each page.

You can navigate within the page by using the links in the introduction box at the top left or scroll down to see all the boxes.
You can navigate between the pages by using the tabs in the black bar on top of the page or the next/previous buttons at the bottom of the page.

Work plan

In this training you will start looking for literature for your subject.
Do this by following the steps below:

1. Look at your chosen topic and formulate a search query. Is your search query too global or too detailed? If necessary, adjust your search query and then determine the key terms in your search query. Go to the subject page for tips and tricks.

2. Then look for search terms that match the key terms you have determined. Need help? Then look at the page search terms.

3.  Next you need to decide in which search systems you will search. That depends on your chosen subject or approach. Do you want to know more about this? Then look at the page search systems.

4. Then comes the search itself, which can be done in different ways (eg search with AND or OR) and with the help of multiple search methods (eg citation search). Do you want to know how to do that? Then look at the search techniques and search methods pages.

5. Are you also looking for books, newspaper articles, reports or statistics, then make a side step to the corresponding pages.

6. If you have found your sources, you need to determine if you can use them in your research. You will check whether the sources are relevant to your research and whether they are scientific (if required, in some cases not-scientific sources like reports or government documents are allowed). Tools for this can be found on the page evaluating sources.

7. You will then use the sources that you have found for your assignment or thesis. That is why you will find in this libguide information about preventing plagiarism and referring to your sources.

It is greatly appreciated if you give us some feedback on this training, please fill in the polls on the last page of this LibGuide.


Assignment during the training 14 Februariy2024 

TIP  Go through the whole libguide before you begin your assignment. You will be better prepared and that will save you time.

Online access to digital publications

Do you want to read a digital article or an ebook, or do you want to search a specific database?
Utrecht University staff and students can access digital material, for which the library has a license, in different ways.
Read more about these different options on the website of the Utrecht University Library.

Off campus, the Lean Library browser extension supports this, and connects you to the Utrecht University network wherever you are. Lean Library also points you to the right location to access the material you have found.

In your search for scholarly literature you may sometimes find the UBUlink (on campus or when you are logged into a database via the library). This link provides information about the availability of digital publications via the University Library. The UBUlink can only provide information about digital publications. To check if we have a print publication in our collection search for the title in WorldCat.

Compass: online information skills training courses

The Utrecht University Library offers several online information skills training courses, Compass.

If you want to know more about searching for literature sources, or want to practice more with the different parts of a search strategy, go to
This training consists of four modules of approximately 30 minutes. Together  they form a complete introduction course on searching and finding information, but you can also go through the modules independently of each other:

  1. Finding and accessing information
  2. Setting up your search
  3. Evaluating your sources
  4. Saving and using sources

Next to this basic skills training the library also offers the additional library skills modules: