Which search tools should I use?
Think about the type of information you need to find - this will often determine the tool you use
Using the right tool can save you time
Use Library Search and our databases to find peer-reviewed quality materials, and use these to cross-check information found on the internet
Depending on what kind of information or content you are looking for, there are lots of different ways of finding and identifying relevant information.
Library Search covers Imperial College London resources.
- Search across Imperial Library's collections for print and electronic books, online and print journal titles, online database titles, maps, reports, theses, DVDs and CDs.
- Check the location and availability for an item, access e-journals, e-books, online databases, and find maps, DVDs and CDs.
- Reserve a book that's on loan, request an article or book via the Document Delivery Service, and view and renew the items you have.
Bibliographic databases usually contain references, abstracts and full-text articles which have been carefully selected by subject specialists. There are specialist databases for each discipline, and while they share similarities in the way they are searched, they also have many differences. Check the Subject support tab on our website for your subject area and more details on the right databases for your subject.
As well as allowing access to the resources above, the internet provides a huge source of open information: search engines, subject gateways, personal web pages, blogs, wikis and social networking sites can all prove useful research resources.
It's important, however, to remember the disadvantages of using general internet content:
- Information may not be of appropriate academic level or quality
- Quantity of material can be overwhelming
- Authenticity can be difficult or impossible to establish
Internet search engines do have limitations, see What’s wrong with google?
Sites like Wikipedia can be useful, but do think about whether they are right for your assignment.