Structure and optimize your information search. Get tips and tricks on how to find literature and how to structure your search and save time.
Guide to finding your literature
Optimize your literature search. Use this guide to find student theses, books and articles: - a guide on finding them, and help on how to structure your search process = saving time
- Vocabulary is key (use words that the author would use)
If you only search with the words you just have in your head right here and right now, you can very well risk getting some very one-sided results. Find more words for the same concept to get new angles on the topic and perhaps get to a more academic level. Look through the table of contents and see what technical terms the author.
- Search matrix (document your information search)
Now you have a large vocabulary - what to do with that?
Write the words down - because searching is a process over time and most often in several search tools. Make it a habit to write the words down because you cannot remember them tomorrow .. even if you think you can! The search matrix is a simple way to keep track of your words. First, write down your problem. What key concepts can you find? Write them down. Enter synonyms, alternatives, related terms. If a keyword leads you astray - leave it at that!
- Be source critical
Sender - Does the author (who can be an individual or an organization) have the professional background that makes the source worthwhile? private person, professional or academic organization, company?
Motivation - What is the purpose? Knowledge sharing / information or ‘sales’ of service, product, attitude?
Age - how old is the source - and does age matter to your topic?
Relevance - is it the most suitable source for your topic and is the academic level high enough?
Argumentation - are the arguments in the source substantiated, or are they postulates?
- Find both pros and cons
It is important that you find sources that speak FOR your theory and sources that go in a different direction. Nothing can stand alone and to illuminate a given theory; as to describe a topic, you need to find what speaks FOR your theory / your argumentation - but also what speaks against. So Pros and cons.
More (and different kinds of) videos:
Vocabulary: Scholarly books (versus a practical bop: https://youtu.be/S3oGL4G_siw (By McMaster Libraries)
Vocabulary: How do you use a book to find related sources (AND a vocabulary)? https://youtu.be/So8jAJdF26I (By BAAA library)
Vocabulary: Using the subject term lists in EBSCO: https://youtu.be/K56OPY3sbJ8 (By EBSCO)
Search matrix: If you don't like that method, then perhaps you can use the mind map approach: How to choose keywords https://youtu.be/BoujP8KoK7E (By McMaster Libraries)
The video also touches on what relevant subject terms are.
Source criticism: How to evaluate sources (the CRAAP test) https://youtu.be/_M1-aMCJHFg (by McMaster Libraries)
Market information sources
Quantification of products in the danish market (youtube)
- Product classification codes (the Combined Nomenclature, click on “Codes and description”)
- The CN search engine helps you find the right codes
Quantification of products in the European market
- Product classification codes (the classificationsystem PRODCOM; best strategy is to look for the topic in the heading and then unold the hierarchy)
- The search engine helps you find the right codes (it shows ALL classification schemes, look for PRODCOM)
I cannot find any data – what to do?
- When the data you find is inadequate please read this guide (pdf). The guide is written in collaboration with Tine Frandsen, lecturer at Business Academy Aarhus.
NOTE: if you are an intern or doing your final project for a company, a project budget could be an option.
We have collected the issues you need to pay attention to, when managing sources:
- Source critisism
- The Harvard standard
- Reference management tools
- Personal data
- What is plagiarism and how do you avoid it?
Using the 'Stop Plagiarism' you'll learn to manage sources correctly. Includes short quizzes.
- When finding the right sources, it is important to use source criticism. Follow these steps: 1) at what level is the source written? is it academic or practical or is it just below an academic level?, 2) who wrote it? who is the sender? a private person, an organiation or a company? and 3) what is the motivation?, is it for knowledge sharing or is someone trying to sell you something? The Craap test (youtube) is an easy way to find the currency, relevance, authority, accuracy and purpose.
The Harvard Standard
- The local guide (pdf)
The library at Business Academy Aarhus have made a guide for the basics of source management including of course the Harvard standard. It has a compiled list of examples on the what, why and how sources should look when entered as references or listed in the literature list.
Reference Management tools
- This reference tool, Zotero, is a free and fantastic tool, that saves you some typing.
- Download our 'Get started with' guide and eliminate common issues (pptx)
- Search Zotero's support (very thorough)
- In 2018, the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has come into force. GDPR has an impact on how you manage personal data in your study projects. Learn more using the guide How to handle personal data in your projects (pdf)
What do YOU get from an academic article?
Academic articles deal with topics at a higher academic level than newspaper articles. The world is described based on scientific research and data collection - eg. a study of which business models works best for sharing economy enterprises.
The research is more in-depth than if it were researched by a media company - and is a valid basis for your own empirical data (your field work). Academic articles are difficult to read - learn “how to read an academic article” via the video link video at the bottom of the page.
Where can you find academic articles?
Business Academy Aarhus subscribes to the article database EBSCO Business Source Complete and links to several other professionally oriented article databases (learn more in the menu 'E-resources') where you can search for and download research articles.
Academic articles often cost money to read.
Business Academy Aarhus has purchased a license for the EBSCO Business Source Complete article database and links to several other professionally oriented article databases (find them in the 'E-resources' menu) where you can search for and download research articles.
Google's little brother, Google Scholar, links to material from publishers and educational institutions - e.g. books, undergraduate projects and academic articles.
Unfortunately, there is not always free and full access to all texts (this can also happen with EBSCO and other specialized databases), and then what?
You may find articles by copying the title (remember to put the title in "quotation marks") and search Google. Not Google Scholar, just Google. Remember to also check if Academia can be accessed; free access, if you create a profile.
A lot of research papers are published under an Open Access license, meaning they are free (for the reader). The easiest way to find a legal article in full text is to install the browser extension 'Unpaywall': https://unpaywall.org/products/extension.
Link to a title - if it's free somewhere, Unpaywall shows a green open padlock to the right. Click to download.
If there is no free article, the padlock is grey.
If the padlock is grey - contact the library at firstname.lastname@example.org - we'll see what we can do.
How do you read an academic article?
It's not the same as a textbook, or a novel - to be efficient, you'll need to read it in a specific way. How to read efficiently see short video below:
- Video tutorial (8 mns)
E-books and open access journals
As the physical libraries are closed, you’ll have to get your books as e-copies. Learn more on how to find good (ie valid) and free or almost free e-books/open access journals in our guide.
Valid books – what's that?
When doing desk research, you need to look at sources with a critical view – as always, and also when choosing textbooks for your project.
The critical evaluation tools are:
- Sender: who is the sender? An individual, a professional or academic organization or a company? Does the sender have the necessary knowledge and background?
- Knowledge level: Is the source relevant for your problem concerning the knowledge level? Is the source:
- Professional (problem solving or experience based)
- Academic (based on proven theories, makes use of research-based methods for collecting primary and secondary empirical data)
- Motivation: What is the purpose?
- Knowledge sharing?
- Selling something that’s not necessarily related to the information?
It’s imperative to base your work on trustworthy and valid texts. We’ll get you started with our list of free e-book providers.
Google Books is Google’s site for books. You have full access to some (open access books), others have limited access, while some books only have a description.
If you’ve been recommended a specific title, not available as free or cheap e-book anywhere, you might try Google Books. Maybe the information you need is freely available.
Do remember that Google Books contains all kinds of books – even the useless or downright untrustworthy ones. Be critical!
Directory of Open Acces Books
Most academic publishers have Open Acces books in addition to their per pay books. You don’t have to search the internet for them – the trustworthy ones are all listed at the portal ‘Directory of Open Access Books’.
Find books either using the search field (‘Search’) or limit by title, keywords or author (‘Browse’)
Cabi specializes in academic literature on plant and animal science and tourism. We have a lot of their quality books on the library shelves. CABI offers some of their stock as open access.
E-book licenses at public libraries
Via the public libraries’ wesites, you can access a wide selection of e-resources – e-book licenses to fiction and non-fiction as well as other kind of media.
In Aarhus the menu is called ’Netmedier’, in Horsens ’Det digitale bibliotek’, but it could be called ’onlinebiblioteket’, ’e-biblioteket’ etc.
The reason I’ve put in the Danish names is because the English sites don't always show the full information. Use the original Danish ones.
Use your public library login to get access.
A selection of licenses (the municipalities don’t have identical licenses so the local choice may vary):
- Books24/7 ITpro – IT-books
- E-reolen - Danish fiction and non-fiction e-books and audio books
- Ebook Central (different types with general or academic content)
- Safari Tech Books – IT-books
E-books - per pay, but (right now) free access:
- The Muse Project - an academic publishing portal, specializing in the humanities, arts and social sciences. Contains open Acces books and journals apart from their per-pay products.
Right now they offer free access to a lot of the per-pay books and journals.
- Link to the Muse Project. Limit search results to free content.
- Link to a list of the participating publishers including information about the free access tme frame.
Open Access Journals
Topics cover areas of science, technology, medicine, the humanities and social sciences:
Free access to 140 journals, find the alphabetical list here:
Wiley open access:
Wiley Open Access publishes a number of online journals across biological, chemical and health sciences:
- Directory of Open Access (DOAJ)
In this database you'll find open access journals and articles from all over the world. The topics cover most of Business Academy Aarhus' subject areas. You can search for articles using a detailed subject hierarchy.