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Literature Search in General

There are many different ways of searching for relevant sources that deal with a particular topic. There is not one perfect way. As you start, consider carefully what it is exactly that you want to investigate. That way you will define your topic with more conceptual precision and narrow down results in a more systematic way.

In a first step, you can compile different search terms that cover different aspects of your topic. It can be helpful to include words with similar meanings (synonyms) in your search.

Search machines and library catalogs often only return results that match your search terms exactly. Therefore, if you intend a complete search, you are advised to include your search terms in singular and plural forms. Sometimes it can be important whether letters are capital or lower-case. Consider including terms from more than one language, and remember that different languages may be important in different disciplines.

From Local to National Search

As a rule, you will want to start searching for sources that are available locally. At Freie Universität, you can use Primo as a tool for the local search

Primo is the discovery system provided by the Freie Universität University Library. It includes all classical functionalities of the online catalog, such as user account settings. A literature search in Primo is much wider than a search in the online catalog. Besides print holdings, the mega-index that is presented trough one search interface also covers electronical books, journal articles, individual book chapters or audiovisual media. Moreover, the datasets pertaining to national licenses provided by the German Research Council, DFG. Result lists in Primo contain information on the relevant items' availability and direct users to full texts – on condition that they have either been licensed or are freely accessible. A comprehensive literature search should go beyond the local scope, especially when a subject is very specific and there are is only a small number of local results. A regional search should be done on the KOBV portal, a national searche through the Karlsruher Virtueller Katalog. Relevant literature can be requested through interlibrary loan; usually interlibrary loans are delivered within two weeks. All German-language literature and literature concerning Germany is listed in the German National Library's catalog.

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