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Karlstads universitetsbibliotek - ämnesguider

Media and Communication Studies

The basics of information retrieval

We have gathered the 6 most important things you need to know to search and manage diverse information sources. This page consists of six different sections. Good luck with your studies and we are at the library to help you!

1. Information retrieval

To succeed in your information retrieval you will need to:

- Think carefully about the issue and keywords
- Have a strategy for how and where to search
- Think creatively, there may be many different strategies
- Find a relevant article or book.  It can be a great start, and lead to many more sources!
- Remember source criticism: who has written what and why?

2. Search tools

Where should I start, Google, library catalogs or databases?

The best search strategies include a varity of search tools to find diverse sources of information. For instance you could start with the library catalog, One Search, a subject-based database or a generic search engine they are all options. Learn more about the search tools that are suitable for what you needs.

3. How is research communicated?

There are many different traditions for how research is communicated. In the humanities, we often publish in both books and journals. Here are some examples of the types of publications used to transmit research:

Academic journal article
Book or book chapter
Newspaper article

How to Read Academic Research

4. Source criticism

Are you sure the information you found was good and trustworthy? Regardless of where you found your source, printed or electronic you may need to consider the credibility and suitability. Remember that all sources have author and a message.
Source Criticism issues:

  • Who is the author?
    Is there a specific author or publisher, and you can check their authority on the subject?
  • What purpose does the content serve?
    Does the author aim to inform, influence, or provoke??
  • Who is the targeted?
    Is the target group able to understand the text, is the style appropriate for the purpose?
  • How current is the information?
    Is there related material,has it been updated recently? Are there new editions?
  • How credible is the content?
    How well do the sources cover the subject?
  • Are the facts correct and is the text objective? Are there references cited in the text and reading list?

5. Writing and referencing

When writing your thesis there are several practical things you need to master: for instance the ability to reference sources according to the system used in your subject area, knowing how to avoid plagiarism, and the ability to manage Word programs to make a proper table of contents, etc etc.

Read more about:

6. Plagiarism

In order to avoid plagiarism it is important that you always include all the sources you use, by quoting and referencing correctly. Learn more about plagiarism here.

When writing your own text it is important that you specify which thoughts are yours and which you took from someone else. In this way you give credit to the person whose research you build your text on. It furthermore demonstrates you are well-informed in your field and is a way to build new knowledge. This is what is meant by academic honesty.

Information about plagiarism from Karlstad University