- In addition to Google and Wikipedia use also databases and (often electronical) resources of libraries for finding subject information. Use specialized subject databases for searching for journal article and conference papers.
Orientation before searching.
- Encyclopedias and other reference works, virtual subject gateways as well as subject-specific sections on library shelfs offer first orientation to get familiar with a topic. Subject librarians can provide consulting to find subject-specific information.
- to get the full text of a specific journal article! Potentially the journal is available only in printed form in the library holdings. Or the electronic version you have access in the TUHH intranet is only available at another place than the publisher’s website.
Linking services or link resolver – as systems managed by libraries to show you the availability of scholarly publications – support finding of full texts.
“Bulls*** in, bulls*** out.”
- When searching think about search terms you use and their variations and synonyms. Too general key words lead to too many hits from which often only a fraction is useful; when using too specific key words, important information might not be found.
When finding information think already of its further processing respectively later publication.
- Tools for bibliographic reference mangement support saving, sorting and editing your references.
Keeping current …
- … by browsing contents of journal issues, subject-specific mailing lists, following other researchers via Twitter or reading subject-specific weblogs. To keep one’s panoramic view RSS feeds of weblogs and other offers of information can be collected in social feed readers like Netvibes, see for personal example a feed collection with journals in chemical engineering, with document repositories among others.
Be aware of the following general hints and key competences
- Be prepared for constant change.
- Know your skills and limits!
- Tolerate ambiguity and differences.
- Don‘t give up too early.
- Be aware that every fact is the result of an act, that information has been created by somebody with a certain purpose.
Meaning and use of concepts like publication, author, document, journal, or library has changed in the electronic world of information. Issues in intellectual property and copyright in a “cut-and-paste” environment. Citing in the right way is important. Questions of information ethics and politics (plagiarism, ownership, commercial or free access, privacy) become more important. Does there exist a digital divide? Even think of the preservation and long-term stability of information. What will be happening with electronic records or data in 30 or 50 years’ time?
In spite of information overload, only a limited part of information is freely available on the Internet. Access to commercial information sources for scholarly research such as reference databases and the fulltext of a specific journal is usually subject to a license fee. However, they are often offered within the intranet of universities or companies. Open access activities try to free access to scholarly publications at least for research and educational purposes. One example is the journal “PLOS biology“.
Tips for reading
- Hapke, T.: The world of processing engineering and biotechnology information : seven points for reflecting on your information behavior. 2017. https://doi.org/10.15480/882.1500 (Updated and modified version of: Appendix I. The world of biotechnology information: seven points for reflecting on your information behavior. In: Buchholz, K., Kasche, V., Bornscheuer, U.T.: Biocatalysts and Enzyme Technology. 2. ed. Wiley-VCH, 2012, S. 553-564)
- Blaxter, L., Hughes, C., Tight, M. How to research. 4. ed. Open Univ. Press, Buckingham, 2010.
- Paradis, J. G.. Zimmerman, M.L. The MIT guide to science and engineering communication. 2.ed. MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass., 2002.
- Osif, B.A., (Ed.), Using the engineering literature, 2nd edn. CRC Press, Boca Raton, Fla, 2012
- Wagner, B. Finding Physical Properties of Chemicals: A Practical Guide for Scientists, Engineers, and Librarians Science and Technology Libraries, 2001 (published 2003, revised 2009, 2011, 2014), 21, No. 3/4, 27-45