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Finding Information: Knowing where to look

It's easy to feel overwhelmed by the vast amounts of information out there. So where do you begin your search? Let’s find out… 

Knowing where to look

Writing an essay, dissertation or thesis? As a student at Newcastle University, you need to find and use good quality information from a wide variety of sources in your work. It’s the first step to building knowledge of your subject. It’s also a skill your lecturers want to see, which will get you better marks, and that graduate employers are looking for.

You might be tempted to start with Google and Wikipedia, but to find relevant, high quality information that you can really rely upon and trust, you’re going to need to dig a bit deeper...

  Check out our Knowing where to look video to get started...

Library Search

The best place to begin your information search is Library Search – Newcastle University Library's very own search engine. It’s a powerful tool that provides access to a wide range of books, journal articles, conference papers and more. It also allows you to search across our many subscription databases and Special Collections.

   Library Search

Whatever your focus, remember that Google and Google Scholar are rarely the best search tools for finding academic information. They can be handy to kick-start your search, but a lot of scholarly articles and resources aren’t freely available online, and Google can’t index every specialist database.

Subject databases

Subject databases are the best way to find high quality academic information for your discipline. They allow you to search catalogues for specialised information such as journals, ebooks and conference proceedings, and then access the full-text articles online.

Your library liaison team have brought together the best databases and specialist resources for your subject area. You’ll find these listed on your Subject Guides so be sure to check them out.

   Subject Guides

Video: Finding and using your Subject Guide


This video shows you where to find your subject guide and what's in it

Scopus and Web of Science are useful academic databases that allow you to find information relevant to your keywords, that may not necessarily be published within your subject area. You’ll also find links to these on your Subject Guide.

Reading lists

A Reading list is simply a list of the items a lecturer wants you to read for their module. This will probably focus on books, ebooks and journal articles, but can also feature other types of information. Some items on the list will be essential – meaning you need to read them – and some will be suggestions for wider background reading.

A reading list is a great place to start if you are not sure what you should be reading, and can often act as a springboard to find other relevant information. You will find your own reading lists on your module page in Blackboard, with essential and recommended/supplementary reading clearly labeled.

   Find out more about reading lists