Finding sources

Sources can be books, journal articles, websites, or any form of evidence we can use to support our work. It can be tempting to ‘just Google it’ and settle for the first few hits you find. However, you have access to a wide range of good quality academic and professional sources through Brookes Library, and using these in your work will usually earn you higher marks. It takes some more planning and a systematic approach to make sure you’re getting good quality evidence.

Scroll down for our recommended strategies and resources. 

Finding your reading list

Your module reading list gives you sources recommended by your lecturers. Find your reading list on the Moodle page for each module (under the Key Resources section) or in your Module handbook. Alternatively, use the Brookes LibrarySearch box (on the Library homepage) by clicking on the 'reading lists' tab and entering your module code or module name. See this Library video for more help:

Start with the library

The LibrarySearch box on the Library homepage is a good place to start. This searches all of our books and e-books, as well as articles from many different journals. The next place to look for more subject-specific sources is your Course Resource Help page. Select your subject to get recommendations for specific databases that you can search for relevant information. You will still need to evaluate any sources you find to see if they are relevant and suitable for your purpose. See our page on evidence:

Too many?

If you’re getting too many results from your search, try narrowing the focus by adding more search terms (e.g. ‘sustainability’ and ‘food production’ rather than just ‘sustainability’). On LibrarySearch and most databases, you will also find filters where you can restrict your search, for example by date or subject.  

Not enough?

If you’re not getting many results, try using synonyms (e.g. ‘wind power’ and ‘solar power’ instead of just ‘green energy’) or using an * (asterisk) to stand in for possible multiple endings (e.g. educat* would include educate, educated, education, educational or educator.) Looking in the reference list of one good source may give you further leads. You can also try putting the article title into Google Scholar and clicking ‘Cited by’ to see other (more recent) articles which have cited that one (databases like Web of Science have similar features). If you are not finding what you need, your Academic Liaison Librarian can help you develop effective search strategies.

Sources from other libraries

Brookes Library has access to a wide range of sources, but if there are specific sources that we don't have, or that you need for a specialist project or dissertation, you can use the Interlibrary loan service. You may also be able to use other libraries, for example through the SCONUL scheme. Some students have access to the Bodleian (University of Oxford) library too: 

Keep track

A final tip is to be systematic and keep a record of the search terms you’ve used and the places you’ve searched, such as the databases you’ve used. This avoids confusion and wasting time searching the same places twice. You might wish to use a reference management tool like Endnote to help you to keep track of your sources: