Where do you look if you already have information about an article or book, for example the exact title, words from the title or the name of the author(s)? For a known item search applies:
Do you know the title of a journal and possibly also the volume? In the overview of digital journals in WorldCat UU you will find current and closed subscriptions of the Utrecht University Library. You can also search by issn or browse the alphabetical list.
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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.
Before you can really start looking, you have to think about where to look? Which search engines best suit your topic? What handy, reliable, recommended databases are there?
There are broad, multidisciplinary databases, such as Scopus and Web of Science. There are also databases that are specialized in a specific field, eg Westlaw (law), PsycInfo (psychology) or the MLA (modern languages).
Read the short descriptions and choose the database (or more than one) that best fits your search query.
Most of these search systems are paid for and access is limited to employees and students of Utrecht University. After graduating, you can still search in open access search engines and freely accessible search engines such as PubMed (biomedical literature), Google Scholar or WorldCat.
Articles can be found in almost all academic engines and databases. Filter on document type: articles.
Often used search engines for articles are (amongst others):
NB For articles in print journals you search for the journal title in WorldCat and request the right volume/issue
Articles in scientific journals can be cited. That is, an author uses an article as a source for his or her own work. The articles used are then listed in the bibliography/reference list of the new article.
You can therefore find articles via these reference lists, which we also call snowball searching.
You can also actively search for articles that cite a found source, we call this citation searching.
(see also Search methods)
Citation searching is also a way to discover journals that publish articles on your subject. For instance go to the Journal Citation Reports.
Look for a well-known journal in your field and click on Cited Journal Data and Citing Journal Data. You will see lists of journals which contain citations to the well-known journal or, on the other hand, are cited by that journal. In this way you will get a network of related journals.
You are often specifically looking for peer-reviewed articles.
Peer review is a way of guaranteeing the scientific nature of an article. In peer review, an article is read and assessed anonymously by peers before publication. You can often find information about peer review on the magazine's website (in pages like: About this journal' or something similar). See also the Libguide Evaluating sources.
There are several ways to search for peer-reviewed articles:
Newspaper articles can be found in specialised newspaper archives, such as:
In most scientific search engines and databases you will also find books and (sometimes) chapters from books in addition to articles. You do often have to look for it much more specifically.
In your database, choose to filter by document type, e.g. books and (if possible) also by e-books or print books (or book chapters).
Commonly used search engines for books include:
If you have any questions about e-books? Please visit the e-books webpage at the Utrecht University Library website.
Google Books is the most well known full text database with millions of scanned books. In Google Books you will find both scientific and non-scientific books. Please note that Google Books does not always display the entire text of all books or even the part that you need.
Get hold of a book found in Google Books:
Click (if available on the page) under Get this book in print on the link Find in a library. You will be directed to WorldCat.org. In this worldwide catalogue you can see if the book is available in the collection of Utrecht University Library or in other libraries around the world.
As in other Google sites there are clear differences between the .nl and.com version:
If you are searching on a particular topic, performing a search in the full text of books can be very convenient. With millions of scanned books Google Books is the best known full text database
Other useful search engines:
Articles published as chapters in books (edited volumes, readers) are not always easy to find.
The easiest way is, of course, to find the (e-)book the chapter is published in.
In many search systems you can also search for book chapters by using filters and limits.
Usually the system will offer you filters after you have performed a search, but sometimes it is also possible to add limits beforehand (Tip: take a look at the Advanced Search options).
Take your time to look for possible filters (or 'limits') for document types in other multi disciplinary search systems like Scopus and Web of Science or in subject related search systems (often called: 'Chapter' or 'Book Chapter').
Below a few tips for searching for book reviews:
There are documents that are not available through the regular (publisher's) channels and that often do not have an ISBN or ISSN number. These documents (such as policy documents, reports, theses and dissertations, conference papers, pamphlets, etc.) are referred to as grey literature.
Searching for these types of resources is not easy. Grey literature can be found everywhere on the internet (at the government websites, at the webpages of organizations and companies, in databases, etc.).
Many organizations place the reports they publish on their own website. These publications are often freely accessible and can be found via major web search engines such as Google or Bing.
You can use the following tips when searching for reports:
File type filter: Search with terms that describe your subject and set the filter for file type: climate change filetype: PDF (via the 'advanced search' screen). This decimates the number of results and limits it to the more important sources.
Site filter: If you know which organization publishes important reports for you, you can also set a filter 'site:' where you enter the domain name of the website, for example: climate change site:unep.org (for the United Nations environmental program).
Report keywords: If you still find too many results, you can add that you are looking for reports. For example, add to your search: report OR investigation.
Some publications appear in the form of preprints or working papers (versions of scientific publications that have not yet been officially released). This type of publication is often available earlier and usually free of charge to everyone. Please note: the preprint/working paper may differ from the final (officially published) version.
You can find this type of publications by clicking 'All versions' in a search result in Google Scholar. There are also databases that offer preprints or working papers (see e.g. Dimensions (limit on publication type>preprints), SSRN (for social sciences, in a very broad sense), various preprint servers, etc., etc.)
Conference proceedings are collections of papers (or the summaries of these papers) presented at a conference. They often present preliminary research results and (as a collection) and offer a good overview of the state of affairs in a particular research area (and at that time).
It is difficult to trace (articles in) conference proceedings. Sometimes they appear in book form or as a special issue of a journal. You can find them in search engines and databases such as Google Scholar, Scopus or Web of Science.
If you are looking for an article in a collection of conference proceedings:
Open Access articles are freely available. Below you will find a list of search engines containing only or mainly Open Access material
If you want to find out what journals are Open Access you can check the Directory of Open Access Journals.
And use the Lean Library extension, it will tell you if an open access version of the article is available.
There are many different search engines, you will have to make a choice before you start your search. But these search systems may differ widely in their search results. It is good to know where these differences originate from.
Even if you enter the same search question, the results in search engines may differ because of:
Some of the questions above can be answered rather easily, for other you need to get to know the database a little better.