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, searching for quality academic sources takes some more planning and a systematic approach to make sure you’re getting good quality evidence.

    Our top tips

    Finding your reading list

    Your module reading list gives you sources recommended by your lecturer. Find your reading list on the Moodle page for each module, linked to in the top right-hand corner, or in your Module handbook. Alternatively, use the Brookes Library search box 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

    Brookes Library search box is the best place to start as you can search for the resources we have available at Brookes, and you can also find links to specialist databases, subject help, and reading lists. You will still need to evaluate them 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’) and by using the ‘refine this search’ bar at the side of the Library catalogue to set date and subject limits.

    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 * 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. If you are not finding what you need, your Academic Liaison Librarian can help you develop effective search strategies.

    Further sources

    If you are looking for more unusual sources of information, or sources held in other libraries, this page is a good start point:

    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.