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Training ISS premaster Academic Skills: Introduction

This libguide

This LibGuide is made for pre-masters students for the master programs 'Youth Studies' and 'Risk Behavior and Addiction ' of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences. 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 in the left-hand column on each page.
You can navigate with the links in the introduction box at the top left or scroll down to see the boxes.

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.

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.

Online access via Lean Library

The Lean Library browser extension offers access to a large number of digital scientific sources, whether you are on campus or off-campus.

Every time you visit a website with publications licensed by Utrecht University Library, you are asked to log in. Next you will have direct access. Using the extension also gives you automatically access to Google Scholar and PubMed including UBUlink.

If you come across a publication which may not be available, Lean Library will try to find an open access version for you.

You download the extension once, select your institution and log in with your Solis ID or UMCU-account and password.

Want to know more? Visit the Online Access via Lean Library page of the Utrecht University Library.
Want to know more about all options to access digital publications? Visit our Online Access page.

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:

UBUlink: availability of digital publications

In your search for scholarly literature you may sometimes find the UBU-link. This link provides information about the availability of digital publications via the University Library.  Sometimes the UBU-link is in the form of a yellow button, but it can also be a text link.

Want to know more about all options to access digital publications? Visit our Online Access page.