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Searching scholarly information

Searching for relevant scholarly information can be a challenge. These tutorials can help you navigating the catalogue and other databases.

How can you find scholarly information?

If you are searching for information, specific 'keywords' are important. Keywords can narrow or broaden the amount of information you will find. Try out which keywords and synonyms are useful for your topic. You can find keywords in titles or abstracts. Here you find three forms which can help you search for literature in a systematic way:

  • Form Keywords. In this scheme you can collect and group the search terms you use together with their synonyms, more general and more specific terms.
  • Form Search process. Here you can keep record of which (combinations of) search terms you used in which databases.
  • Reference list. This form can be used to compose your list of references and it helps you to critically look at each title you found considering some important criteria.

This tutorial, made by the Auburn University Libraries, helps you find the right keywords (Source: Auburn University Libraries. Use course name: ENGL 1023-001). 

Start tutorial

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In search engines like Google you can find a lot of information, but you do not always have full access to scholarly articles. The library gives access to a lot of scholarly databases. All items from the Leiden University Libraries collections: (e)books, journals and databases can be found in the catalogue. When outside the university premises, please log on to the catalogue with your ULCN-account. Search for titles or subjects of your interest and click View Online (if available) to read them online.

In our tutorial 'Working with the catalogue' you learn to search for materials and get an explanation on how you can read them (online).

Start tutorial Working with the Catalogue

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At the start of your research you can use sources like Wikipedia, newspapers and blogs for inspiration. As soon as you distinguished your keywords and a research question, you can start searching various databases. In Database Search you can find all the databases the library has access to. In the subject guides you can read which databases are relevant for your research. In the following tutorials you learn more about finding general and subject specific information.

UBL tutorials Subject
Finding information on chocolate General tutorial
Silk Roads Chinese Studies
Refugees Political Science
James Bond International Studies
Cold war International Studies
Francis Bacon Art & Art History
Search strategy (you need to create a free account and log in) Medical studies
Special Collections For students who want to learn about using our Special Collections

Tips for accessing Digital sources

  • If you have found a digital source in the catalogue that you wish to access from home you need to login via the library catalogue, using your ULCN credentials, and not via a publisher portal. You can also use the Get Access browser extension, available at the homepage of the Catalogue.
  • If you come across a source in the catalogue that is listed as “Online Access” or “Open Access” but you cannot get access, click the ‘report a problem’ option within the record.

Tips for accessing paper sources

  • You need a valid LU-card to access most buildings.
  • Leiden University Libraries consists of several library locations. Depending on your research topic, you may need to access physical books from these different locations.

Not available in the Leiden University Libraries?

There are a number of ways in which you can get access to materials that are not available at Leiden University Libraries.

How to get access to materials not available in Leiden

  • Look up the book or journal in Worldcat. If you enter your zip code, you can find the library nearest to you that has a copy, such as the Royal Library in the Hague or other university libraries.
  • The Royal Library in the Hague offers a 50% discount for students for a one-year membership. Students of Leiden University can apply for a library card free of charge at all Dutch universities.
  • Request the item through Inter Library Loan (ILL).
  • Ask the Leiden University to acquire the item. You can file a request for the library to purchase new materials through the purchase request form.  All requests are considered by the relevant subject librarian. A decision is made depending on collection policy, available budget and price of the item. Please keep in mind that, in case an item is purchased, it can take a while for the item to be shipped and processed.
  • Contact your subject librarian. If the above measures did not help, reach out to your subject librarian. It is possible that they know different means and methods within their field of expertise to obtain access to the materials you need.

Did you know that you can get help with doing research?

  • Ask your question online.
  • Or make an appointment to meet with a librarian and get help doing your research. Subject librarians can help you with: finding information, developing effective search strategies, searching the library catalogues and databases and evaluate information sources.
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