Are you a new student at KTH and need to find course books? Are you writing a thesis and need help with literature searches? Then this is the place to learn how to search and evaluate information.
When writing an assignment or thesis, you need to use different types of scientific material. This is so you can give a a background to the topic, but also so you can present the current research situation and substantiate your arguments. To effectively search for information, you need to know how to build a search and use it in the databases. Follow the library's quick guide below and learn how to search and evaluate information.
A quick guide to searching information
KTH Library gives you access to a large number of databases and search services.
Primo – KTH Library's search engine
Primo is KTH Library's search engine, where you can find both printed and electronic material. All users have a personal login to Primo where you can see your loans, and save favourites and past searches. Primo containes:
Books and eBooks
Printed material If the book you want is in printed format, you will get information about where in the library you can find the book by clicking on the title. You will then see what library the book is located in and what shelf it is on. If the book is on loan, you can choose to reserve it by clicking “Reserve”.
Electronic material If the material you want is an eBook or an electronic article, click on the link that says "Online". If you are outside KTH's network, you will need to log in with your KTH account. You can usually choose between reading the material online or downloading it as a pdf.
There are some older materials that are not searchable in Primo, but only through scanned and searchable versions of old card catalogs. These contain materials that were acquired for the library in 1827-1913, as well as 1913-1960.
Begin by clarifying your research question. Then, identify the key concepts in your question.
Can universal design contribute to the sustainable development of the city space?
Can universal design contribute to the sustainable development of the city space?
Not all authors use the same words, so it is important to think about alternative terms and synonyms. What synonyms can you find for your keywords? Translate your keywords to English or other relevant languages.
Universal design, inclusive design, design for all
City space: cities, urban
To get the most relevant search result possible, you can use some general search techniques that work in most databases.
Use an asterisk (*) to include different endings or plural endings in words. For example, architect* will give you hits on architects, architectural, architecture. If you are unsure about the spelling of a name, put an asterisk at the end: Kovalevsk*
Words can be spelled differently depending on whether it is English or American spelling. To get results that include both spellings, you can place a question mark inside the word, for example “colo?r” gives hits on color or colour.
Phrase search If you include a term that consists of several words within quotation marks, such as “climate change”, you limit your search results to “climate change” and exclude those that are only about climate or change. This way you require the words to be in direct connection to each other.
Boolean operators To combine your keywords, you can use so-called Boolean operators. They are used to narrow or expand your search.
AND is used to narrow your search. In most databases, the words AND will automatically be added between words unless otherwise stated. A search for “city planning” AND sustain* provides hits on all documents containing both words.
Self-driving car OR Self-driving vehicle OR Autonomous vehicle
OR is used to broaden the search. A search for
“self-driving car *” OR “self-driving vehicle*” OR “autonomous vehicle *”
provides hits on all documents containing any of the words.
If you need to combine both AND and OR, use brackets or different search fields.
A search for
(“self-driving car*” OR “self-driving vehicle*” OR (autonomous vehicle*)) AND (legal OR law*)
returns hits on all documents containing any of the search terms in the first parenthesis and any of the words in the other parentheses. If both AND and OR are used in the same search string, you need to use parentheses to manage the order of search terms, as in the example above. Since it is not standardized in what order the database performs AND and OR, a search for
“self-driv*” OR “autonomous vehicle*” AND legal OR law*
might be understood as for example
”self driv*” OR (”autonomous vehicle*” AND legal*) OR law*
which would give a result containing ”self driv*”, other results that contains law* and also results that contains ”autonomous vehicle* AND legal*.
In some databases there are word lists available. They are usually called Thesaurus or Subject Headings. It can be a good tool if you do not really know which words are suitable to use in your search.
The following checklist can be a good starting point:
Who created the information?
Is the person an authority in their field? What else have they published?
Is there a creator missing? Is it an organization or authority responsible for the information? If it is a webpage with unclear sender, it may be good to try to look for contact information.
Where is the information published?
Is it a primary or secondary source?
Has the information been reviewed before publication? If it is a scientific article, has it undergone peer review?
When was the material compiled?
Could the information have become outdated?
Has anything happened in the research area that affects or contradicts the source?
Is the information formulated objectively or subjectively?
Are certain interests represented?
Who is the information targeting?
Is the content scientific/popular science?
Are the facts in the material correct?
Are arguments and conclusions linked to results in the study/report?
Are there references to claims and facts? Can you find another study where the information is confirmed?
Has any of the information disappeared?
With my prior knowledge as a yardstick; does the new information seem reasonable?
As a student you take part in academic communication both as a reader and as a writer. To be able to produce academic information you need to learn to independently search for, evaluate and use different kinds of information.
Academic information is written by researchers that present new findings mainly addressed to other researchers within the same subject area. Theoretical points, methods and results are often presented according to a certain structure in a neutral way using a terminology specific for that subject area. In scientific texts you also find references to other sources which mark the border between other researcher’s results and yours.
Within natural science and technology researchers usually publish their latest findings as articles in scholarly journals. All manuscripts that are sent to a journal are reviewed by the journal's editors. Many scholarly journals use peer review which means that the manuscripts are anonymously reviewed by external researchers within the subject area.
Read more about peer review at Umeå University Library.
Popular scientific information is mainly addressed to readers that are not experts within a specific subject area. These texts use a simpler language and usually don’t present as detailed information as scholarly articles. They refer to previous research but don’t necessarily cite other sources. New Scientist is an example of a popular science journal.
Commercial information like product catalogues or trade magazines might be published by companies who like to information customers about new or updated products. This kind of information could be biased since the information is addressed to potential customers. Within Engineering Science or Architecture it might be useful to know information about different products characteristics and qualities to be able to make a construction as qualified as possible.
Doctoral studies ends with the doctoral student’s public defense of the doctoral thesis. Within Natural Science it is most common to publish a compilation theses, meaning that the thesis consists of previously published scholarly articles. Within the Social Sciences and Humanities most doctoral theses are published as monographies (books).
Research that is presented during a conference is often published as an abstract or scholarly article in a conference publication. Sometimes the articles are reviewed. A report usually presents findings from a project that has been performed by, for example, government agencies, companies or organizations.