Searching for sources

In order to efficiently search for sources, one has to know something about general search technique. Using simple search engines such as Google, for instance,  is insufficient for obtaining reliable and academic sources for projects on university level. Google Scholar however, which searches for scholarly sources only, is recommended. In project work, reliable sources are to be used. These sources are usually in the form of articles in scholarly journals, and such journals are mainly accessible through databases that LIRU subscribes to, and through Google Scholar.


General search techniques

When searching for sources, everything depends on choosing the applicable search terms.

It is important to pick out key concepts in project descriptions, and use those as search terms; for example, What is the correlation between anorexia and depression? The key concepts here are correlation, anorexia, and depression.

One must also think outside the box and find synonyms, narrower terms, and/or broader terms, whether it be in English or other languages. Using the example above on the correlation between anorexia and depression then:

  •  ... a broader term could be ...
    o   anorexia → eating disorders
    o   depression → mental disorders
  •  ... synonyms / related terms could be ...
    o   correlation → interconnection, correspondence
    o   depression → melancholia

The following web sites can be useful in finding synonyms and related terms:

  • Snara.is – various dictionaries (English and other languages)
  • Thesaurus.com
  • The various databases also offer thesauruses to aid in finding good search terms

Most often it is not enough to use one single search term; this usually returns limited search results. When using more than one search term, so-called Boolean operators, AND, OR, and NOT, are used and these are always written in capital letters.

  • AND = to find two or more words together on a web page or in an article - for example:
    o   children AND behavior
    o   Iceland AND banks AND crisis
  • OR = to find either word; good for searching for synonyms - for example:
    o   lystarstol OR anorexia
    o   fylgni OR correlation
  • NOT = to exclude words which do not belong in the search results - for example:
    o   jaguar NOT car (when searching for sources on the feline Jaguar)
    o   fuji NOT film (when searching for sources on Mount Fuji in Japan)

Most search engines and databases understand space between words in such a way that both search terms should be searched for (or all the search terms if there are more than two search terms), although this is by no means universal.

In Google and Google Scholar the plus sign (+) is used instead of AND and the minus sign / dash (-) instead of NOT.

In most databases and library systems, the advanced search feature provides users with the option of selecting the Boolean operators AND, OR, and  NOT in drop-down menus and thus connect search terms.

Place quotation marks “...” around search terms that are to be kept together, for example,

  • “behavioral disorders”
  • “business management”
  • “body mass index”

Quotation marks can also be used together with Boolean operators - for example:

  • Iceland AND “financial crisis”
  • children AND “body mass index” NOT “United States”
  • children OR teenagers OR adolescents AND “body mass index” NOT “United States”

 


Searching online

Google is by far the most popular search engine today.

When searching with Google, the search engine understands spaces between search terms as a request for web pages containing both search terms (or all of them if more than two search terms are entered) on the same web page.

To ensure that both or all search terms occur on each web page displayed in the search results, a plus sign (+) must be entered in front of all search terms and placed right up against the terms, for example,

  •  +children +behaviour (searches for web pages on the behaviour of children)

If search terms are to be excluded from search results, a minus sign / dash (-) is used and placed right up against the terms, for example,

  • “financial crisis” –Iceland (searches for web pages on financial crises but not the financial crisis in Iceland)

Always place quotation marks around words that are to be kept together when searching on Google, for example,

  • “behavioral disorders”
  • “business management”
  • “body mass index”

When searching for academic sources online, it is highly recommended to use Google Scholar which finds articles in academic journals in addition to other reliable online sources. Google Scholar can be configured in such a way that the search engine provides links to the full text of journal articles within databases that LIRU has access to. In such cases, Til|Available@RU.is appears on the right side of the screen.

To set Google Scholar so that it accesses sources in LIRU databases, see  instructions for configuration.

Not all web pages fall under the definition of being reliable sources. Web pages hosted by public institutions should, however, in most instances qualify as reliable sources.

The following criteria are often used to assess the reliability of web pages:

Reliable party

  • Who is the author of the material? Can the author be contacted—is, for example, the e-mail address of the person available?
  • Does the author have expert knowledge in this particular field - is the author, for example, a specialist at the institution that hosts the web page?
  • Has the author written more on the material? Google the author, search for his or her name in library systems.
  • Note that you must distinguish between the editor of a web page and the author of published material.
  • Who publishes the web page, that is, who hosts the web page? Is it a reliable party?
    Look at the first part of the URL, i.e. www.???.?? Is it an individual,  a university, an institution,  a professional association, a company ...?
  • Also look at the endings of the address. Does it end in ...
    .gov (governmental entity)
    .edu (educational institution)
    .org (organisation – an institution or organisation that receives no financial gain from its operations)
    .com (commercial entity – business and/or services)

Unbiased discussion

  • What is the purpose of the web page? Is it to sell, educate, express an opinion, publish facts, news ...?
  • How detailed is the information presented?
  • Is the discussion one-sided or is the material discussed from more than one point of view? Does the language show signs of prejudice? Does the information on the web page conform to other sources on the same subject?

 

New information

  • When was the page created?
  • When was the page last updated?
  • Are the links on the page active?
  • Do the links lead to “good/reliable” pages and do they add anything to the material on the page?

 


Searching LIRU databases

LIRU subscribes to numerous databases, in addition to providing access to domestic and foreign databases that are free of charge. An overview of the databases can be found on the database page of LIRU.

The main databases are the following:

  • The encyclopedia Britannica Online. – Ideal for searching for definitions of terms, events in the history of mankind, or a well-known individual.
  • The aggregated databases EBSCOhost and ProQuest. –Cover a wide range of fields and offer access to articles (abstracts and full text) in peer-reviewed scholarly journals and general journals, articles from newspapers and news feeds.
  • Specialized databases are suitable for searching for sources in individual academic fields. – For example, the statistics database DataMarket and the business information database MarketLine, the legal databases FonsJuris (Icelandic), Karnov (Danish), and  Lovdata (Norwegian), the computer science database ACM Digital Library and the civil engineering database ASCE
  • Databases housing scholarly journals of individual publishers. - Wiley, Sage, and Science Direct (Elsevier).
  • Reference databases, i.e. databases which provide information on and abstracts of articles in scholarly journals (full text is not available in the database itself). – For example, Web of Science (WoS), which is a database of ISI (Institute of Scientific Information), high-quality journals in various academic fields.
    WoS provides a link to full text through databases that LIRU has access to (if at all possible).
  • Icelandic databases, such as:
    o   Timarit.is - Icelandic journals from the beginning of publication
    o   Hirslan (repository of Landspítali University Hospital) - mostly articles and papers in the field of health sciences
    o   Rafhlaðan - material which has only been published in electronic format
    o   Skemman – repository for final theses from Icelandic universities
    o   Greinasafn Mbl. – articles from Morgunblaðið newspaper

 


Was the content helpful? Yes No