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Universiteitsbibliotheek – LibGuides

Training ISS premaster Academic Skills: Search methods


In addition to systematic searching by subject, there are also other useful ways to find sources.

Read the information in the boxes in the adjacent column.

  • Choose an article that you have already found and take a look at the reference list. Do you find new sources here?
  • Then search the article in Google scholar with UBU link, Scopus or Web of Science (the citation databases) and look for citations.

Write down the details of your newly found sources so that you can retrace them later.‚Äč

Search methods

Snowball method: You search on the basis of a suitable article you have found earlier. For instance, you go looking for other articles by the same author or you search by keywords you have found in that article. Most common is searching in the reading list of the article. This way of searching for references goes back in time to older publications.

Citation searching: see if the article you found has been cited, and if so, have a look at these articles and find out again of they have been cited in their turn etc. Citation searching must be done in a citation database, like Web of Science, Scopus or in Google Scholar. This method goes forward in time to newer articles. Please take into account that a recent article may have no citations yet or just a few.

Systematic method: you search on the basis of (combined) search terms in search engines which make literature in a certain discipline (or all disciplines) searchable (regardless of availability) with the intention of finding as much literature as possible on that subject. You may expand (adding search terms you have found) or limit (cancelling search terms or filter on year of publication). You can use several search techniques in the systematic method. 

Free search: for example find more publications by one author: an author often publishes on the same subject. Look up the author in different databases or in Google (profile page, ResearchGate) or search a particular journal via the e-journals list.

How do I recognize an article, book or chapter in a reference list?

How can you see if a reference refers to an article, a book or a chapter from a book?

A reference to a journal article often includes:
Author(s), the title of the article, the title of the journal in which the article is published, year of publication, volume and/or issue and often also the pagenumbers.

A reference to a book commonly includes:
Author(s), year of publication, title of the book, place of publication and name of publisher.

A reference to an article/chapter in a multi-author book/edited volume  (each chapter in these books is written by a different author and the book is published under supervision of one or more editors) contains details about hte chapter but also the details of the edited volume/book as a whole. The details of the chapter are given first:
Author(s),year of publication,  title of the chapter, the word 'In'  followed by the details of the book as a whole and the page numbers of the chapter.

If you want to know more (and practice) about how to recognize different source types in a reference list go to module 1 of the online information literacy skills training Compass: 'Finding and accessing information' and do the assignments 1.2 en 1.3. 


The search from the previous step included amongst others:

Murray, Stuart B; Nagata, Jason M; Griffiths, Scott, et al. The enigma of male eating disorders: A critical review and synthesis. Clinical Psychology Review. Vol.57 (2017), pp. 1-11

Look for this article in a citation database such as (Web of Science, Scopus or Google Scholar) you will find a number of articles that cite this particular article.