Finding sources that are relevant for your research or study project can be a challenging task. On this page strategies, tools and skills that can help you succeed are presented. Be aware that this advice is written for a broad target group. Each research or study project has its own context and limitations, which will largely determine the way in which you gather information. You can see the advice below as a decent foundation for a search for relevant, trustworthy information and take from it what applies to your research or study practice.  

Determine search strategy
  • Formulate a research question that accurately describes your research or study target. It will save you a lot of time in the process of retrieving useful sources. You can read more about formulating research questions here.  
  • Decide what types of sources you want to look for. Peer-reviewed literature? All scientific literature? Sources outside the academic world? Determining an initial scope for the type of sources you look for will help you select appropriate search engines and use them effectively.  
  • Select bibliographic databases/search engines to start off with. Scopus (direct access) and Web of Science (direct access) offer the largest coverage of peer-reviewed literature, whereas Google Scholar (direct access) also indexes other scientific and non-scientific works. More information on using Scopus, Web of Science and Google Scholar can be found here.   
Gather and organize search terms

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Formulate queries / search sentences

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Manage your selected research outputs

To keep an overview, it is practical to make use of a reference manger while searching for literature. This also allows you to easily insert references of the sources you have found in documents you are working on. Information about reference managers can be found on Referencing & Plariarism   

Access the full text of your search results

Literature databases only give you direct access to the full text of research outputs when the outputs are either published Open Access, or the institute you study or work for has paid for access. To make sure you can access the full text for paid content, and to find alternatives when neither of the options applies, consult Ways to access to literature.  

Training & Instructions

For first-year PhD-candidates from the University of Twente, a course on searching for scientific information is offered four times per year. Please consult this page for more information. For instructions on the subject you can always contact the Information Specialist of your faculty.