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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 the various databases.
  • Reference list. This form can be used to compose your list of references and have a critical look at each title you found by some important criteria.

This tutorial 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. The catalogue automatically searches for all of the entered search terms in one document unless you use OR. 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).

In the tutorial Working with the catalogue you learn how to search, how you can loan books and read articles 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. If you formulated keywords and a research question, you can search various databases. In Find databases 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 these tutorials you learn about finding general and subject specific information.

UBL tutorials  
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

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.
  • 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 Leiden?

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. Leiden University Students can apply for a library card free of charge at all Dutch Universities.
  • Request the item through Inter Library Loan (ILL) or through International ILL.
  • Ask Leiden University to acquire the item. You can file a request for the library to purchase a book, access to a journal or database. 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 several weeks 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 catalogs and databases and evaluate information sources.
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