Finding literature on a topic: general tips

You are writing a seminar paper or have to prepare a presentation and need academic sources for it?

A thematic search is useful if you need literature on a specific topic and do not know any relevant titles.

Now how do you proceed?

Search terms are central to the search. The search results depend decisively on which terms are entered. This applies to every Google search, but even more so to research in library catalogues and subject databases.

Background reading and preparation

Start with some background reading - textbooks, subject encyclopaedias or even Wikipedia to understand the context of the topic and the terminology used in the discussion.

Pick a small set of publications that could give you an overview of the topic. A relevant book or journal article on the topic may contain useful suggestions for further reading.

Identify search terms

At the beginning of a literature search, it is necessary to identify as many of the most important terms associated with the topic as possible. We have listed these tips for doing so:

  • Do not stick to the wording of the topic when researching! By thinking about different aspects of the topic and the question or by exchanging ideas with others, you will come up with more search terms.

Other ways to find search terms:

  • Start the first search query and see what other useful search terms appear in the hit lists, and use these search terms.
  • Look at the subject indexing or classifications to use as further links.
  • Make a note of authors or institutions that publish a lot on the topic and start a search for them in the catalogue.
  • When the first titles are available, analyse footnotes and bibliographies.
  • Note down further search terms from the first readings.
  • Keep a list of useful search terms.

Unfortunately, regardless of the subject you are studying, there is not a single source of information that contains everything you need for your literature research.

GöDiscovery and Göttingen University Catalogue (GUK)

With GöDiscovery the SUB Göttingen provides a search tool that allows you to search many resources in one go.
It currently contains more than 200 million titles with references from libraries of the University of Göttingen and from more than 1,000 other libraries as well as printed and electronic articles from publishers' data and many other sources.

The GUK can also be used as a research tool for the library holdings of the SUB Göttingen.
If you do not find what you are looking for in our catalogues, our list of local and national catalogues and databases will help you.

Finding licenced material for Göttingen University via Google Scholar

Google Scholar is frequently used, as it provides evidence of both fee-based academic articles and free or open access publications. If the SUB Göttingen has licensed an article found, a link via the linkresolver of the SUB leads directly to the full text. This also works from home if you start Google Scholar with Datenbank-Infosystem.

Literature retrieval for your research topic

Depending on the subject you are studying, some search tools are more suitable for you than others. There are also subject-specific reference tools that you should be aware of. If you want to find out more about them, use the services you find listed on our subject information pages.

If you are looking for manuscripts, literary estates, incunabula, Early Printed Books, maps and other special collections at the SUB Göttingen, please refer to our Special Collections website with search tips and a list of specific catalogues.