Skip to Main Content

2020 Finding sources


Where to search

Your module resource lists contain books and articles recommended by your lecturers. These are a great place to start your learning and to build on what you have understood in class.

You can find books, ebooks and articles on Library Search, searching most of our resources all in one go. We have a quick video guide (video 2.09) to making the most of Library Search. Many of our ebooks have tools to help you find information quickly, take notes and more.

Books and ebooks are a great place to start if you are new to a topic and want to know the basics. Textbooks, handbooks, companions and guides will give you an overview of key themes, concepts and names.

Academic journal articles are an essential source of current research, literature reviews and book reviews. Peer-reviewed articles are checked for accuracy, purpose and clarity by a panel of experts, meaning you are reading good quality information. As well as the journal articles on Library Search, we’ve listed specialist journal databases on our Subject Guides.

Search engines like Google will help you find publicly available information such as government documents, charities, businesses, blogs and journalism. There are many tips to help you search Google effectively.

Google Scholar searches publishers’ websites and repositories. Make sure you go to settings and create a library link to the University of Worcester. This means Google Scholar will link you to our full text subscriptions.

Screenshot of library links in Google Scholar

Use Google advanced search to help you find more find relevant items.

Our Subject Guides show the key databases for your studies. If your course needs access to market research, historic documents, legislation, case law or has a specialist resource, you’ll find it here.

For more resources and more advanced search techniques see our guide for researchers.


Choosing search keywords

Getting good grades starts with understanding what the assignment question is asking you to do. Comprehending the instruction words in the question will help you to write the right type of assignment, with the right focus, as this glossary explains.

You will usually need books and journal articles to support what you are saying in your essay. Reading relevant sources can help back up your points and improve your grades.

You need good keywords (video 2:33) to find relevant resources. Look at your assignment question and identify the main themes. Use these to create your keywords:

  • Narrower (more specific) and broader (less specific) terms. You may need to give examples of some of the concepts
  • Other words with the same or related meaning (synonyms)
  • Key authors and theorists
  • Key works, studies or legislation
  • Geographical terms (e.g. country)

Testing 123 tabs

Discuss university students’ attitudes towards online learning.

What might students’ attitudes be? These concepts can make good keywords.


Main concepts

University students, attitudes, online learning


Some possible keywords           

“university students”, undergraduates, “higher education”, HE

attitudes, perceptions, opinions

e-learning, elearning, “online learning”


To what extent does outdoor learning affect group collaboration?

What about elements group collaboration such as leadership or peer learning? These can also make good keywords.


Main concepts

Outdoor learning, group collaboration


Some possible keywords       

“outdoor learning”, “forest school”, “outdoor education”

“group collaboration”, teamwork, cooperation, “peer group” “group interaction”



Using Library Search

Once you have your keywords, look for information in Library Search. You can combine your keywords (video 6:53) using AND, OR and NOT.

Too many results?

  • Put words in double speech marks to search for a phrase: “human resource management”, “special educational needs” “primary care”
  • Use limits and filters. Restrict your search by date range, discipline and content type
  • Use the advanced search to look for words in just the title or abstract. Your results are likely to be more focused on your topic

Too few results?

  • Use OR to combine synonyms or similar words: (teenager OR adolescent) (war or conflict). Advanced search can help with this
  • Make sure you are searching the right place. You may need one of our subject specialist databases


Recording and managing your literature search

Keep a record of your search so you know your keywords, where you've looked, and what you've found. As you search, you will find new keywords, authors and themes you may want to investigate further. Recording these can help keep you on topic. Remembering your research focus and knowing when to stop searching is important.

To keep track:

  • Use a search template to record what you’ve done
  • Use the folder in Library Search to print and email your results
  • Get search results emailed to you by setting up alerts in databases you use
  • Set aside plenty of time - searching always takes longer than you think
  • Know when to stop