Research tips

Before you start:

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How can I find references on my topic?

In seven steps: collect search terms, regional and supraregional search, find and use databases, find and quote references

1. Find out about the topic and find search terms

Before starting with your research, it is important to ascertain meaningful search terms for the topic.

You can find these in reference works (such as in Wikipedia) and on corresponding web pages, as well as during research in catalogues and databases later on.

It is a good idea to compile the terms you have found in a list. Continue to add to them, and keep them by your side for your search.

Sample search terms:

  • Generic terms and minor terms
  • Synonyms
  • Translations
  • Singular, plural
  • Abbreviations
  • Compounds (break up and also search as individual words)
  • Names of people, places, etc.
2. Search the library inventory on site

You can start your research in the local library catalogue. All books, journals, electronic documents and other media in the library are listed here. PLEASE NOTE: no articles or essays are recorded here!

TIP: enter a search term with a ? or an * at the end, the term will be searched with any word ending and you will get more hits!

Make sure you spell the search terms correctly and observe any links to online editions / full texts within the title data.

3. Perform a supraregional search in the union catalogue

Along with the Gemeinsamer Bibliotheksverbund (Common Library Network), the University of Applied Sciences’ library shares a common catalogue (GVK) with around 500 other libraries in North Germany.

This means for your reference research:

  • When performing a search in the GVK-PLUS, you are also researching all inventories of the libraries which participate in the Gemeinsamer Bibliotheksverbund.
  • The search simultaneously searches our catalogue and you receive notification if the reference is available from us.
  • The search is interdisciplinary (take care when using synonyms!)
  • General search terms achieve a great deal of hits, since you are searching through around 85 million(!) title data.
  • Either you use a meaningful search term, combine two or three more general terms with each other or use key words with names (surname of the author / personality, place name).
  • Always take into account the symbols used for the type of publication: books, journals, online resources, articles, etc.

The advantages:

  • Unlike the local library catalogue, journal essays (around 43 million) are displayed in the union catalogue. This means that, when you perform a search in the GVK-PLUS, you are also performing a search of copies of journals belonging to the University of Applied Sciences’ library.
  • Printed references not available in Neubrandenburg can be ordered via the inter-library loan system. Please also consider other editions and electronic versions.
  • Full texts: numerous freely accessible electronic documents can be found and downloaded (e.g. from federal government departments).
  • The reference details can be printed, saved and sent by e-mail.
4. Finding the right database in the DBIS

Databases can help you to find quotable contents (e.g. essays in journals). They trawl through the contents of huge amounts of books, journals and electronic full texts and, with just a couple of clicks, you can filter the results in line with your topic. Your reference search becomes more effective with the aid of databases!

Each database accessible by the University of Applied Sciences’ library is listed in the DBIS, featuring detailed information and tips, enabling you to quickly find the right search instrument for your reference search.

5. Specialist research in databases

Once you have found the right databases with the aid of the DBIS, check out the Help section or, for instance, YouTube, for how to use it. Does the search work with * or ? (cf. point 2) and can I also perform a search in German? How can I save source information? Is it a full text database?

Then perform your research using your list of words. Full-text databases provide links which enable you to download texts. Most databases provide information about the contents by means of abstracts and key words (continue to expand your list of words) and provide the source of the publication.

See Point 6 for how to continue.

Advantages of the database research

Unlike performing a free search in the Internet, specialised databases provide sound, scientifically relevant sources

  • Full-text databases contain electronic documents which can be downloaded (e.g. e-book platforms)
  • The reference information can be saved and edited, such as by means of the reference manager program EndNote.
  • With just a few clicks, large numbers of hits can be limited to the desired topic and language, meaning that it isn’t necessary to enter the precise search term. Example:
  1. Search in SpringerLink: “Sensibility” > 15,000 hits
  2. Filter subject “Educational science” > 1,300 hits
  3. Filter sub-subject “Personality and social psychology” > 28 hits

Ebooks

Here you can find our ebook platforms with electronic full texts.

Courses

Databases and Interlibrary Loan Contact us if you have any questions!

6. Found the right information – how do I receive the references?

The reference information found in databases varies greatly. Always observe the following: which type of publication is it? You then look for the desired title in a catalogue. We recommend first looking in the GVK-PLUS.

  1. Printed book:
    You research the title in the GVK-PLUS. Is the book available in the University of Applied Sciences’ library or do you need to order it via the inter-library loan system?
    Tips:
    - See whether the book is available as an e-book. If so, then try the link in the title.
    - If the desired edition isn’t available in Neubrandenburg, maybe a different one is? Sometimes the editions are unchanged or have only been minimally revised.
    - Is it worth placing an inter-library loan order? Tables of contents and abstracts are generally visible via the catalogue.
  2. Electronic book:
    Ebooks have extremely varying accesses. Ensure you are logged in to the external access.
    Test the link below in the title. If there is no access, search for a printed edition which you can also order via the inter-library loan system. e-books are currently exempted from the inter-library loan system.
  3. Journal articles, essays in books:
    Reference information about essays and articles always include the detail “In:” after it, information about the source in which the text was published is provided. This source is researched in the GVK-PLUS. In the next stage, check to see if the journal or the book is available in electronic form – the title indicates this. If it is only available as a printed publication, check the GVK-PLUS to see which library has the book or the journal (year, issue) in its inventory and place an order for an inter-library loan. Steps for the option of loan or copy order
  4. Electronic journals:
    All electronic journals are listed in the EZB. Information about the licences to the titles can be found here. A traffic lights system makes orientation easier. Yellow (in the campus network) and green (freely accessible) enable access to the full text! Always pay attention to the information regarding the periods of the licences.

Ebooks

EZB

7. Edit and quote reference information

For scientific works, it is extremely helpful to electronically edit reference information from catalogues and databases straight away. Please see the tips in the databases and the FAQs in the catalogues.

As already mentioned under Point 3, catalogues have saving functions for titles, enabling them to be exported. Copy the relevant hits to the clipboard and then download everything together as one list. You can then mail the list from the catalogue.

When exporting the title data from a catalogue or from databases, you can use the export settings for the reference manager program EndNote: EndNote is available to members of the University of Applied Sciences as a campus licence and can be downloaded in the portal. The program allows you to compile your own reference database, which is directly linked with Word, and which seriously simplifies quoting as you are writing.