Literature Research


It is important to consider that access to the databases often only is possibly via University Internet access. You either must be connected via university Wi-Fi or use the  VPN Client der Uni Kiel.

1. Step: Exploratory search
First you should get an overview over the topic. For this, tertiary sources such as teaching books, lexica and basic articles are recommended. Dissertations and habilitations are also an option, as they give an overview over the current stand of research and literature.
In the step of exploratory search, the goal should be to concretize the topic and to create a list with key search words for the further research. This list should include all short words and abbreviations as well as species and related terms or synonyms. Furthermore, Anglicism should be considered.

2. Step: Selective search
The selective search aims to find relevant primary and secondary literature. With help of the in the first step (explorative search) created list and its key words bibliographies, scientific journals and databased are searched for relevant literature. Bibliographies that include all publications published to this topic can be found and accessed through the library catalogs, such as the Kiel University Library or the ZBW Kiel.
In addition, further catalogs of different library networks can be used.
Scientific journals cover special fields of a topic and contain relatively short articles. Databases often incorporate many articles. Next to already published articles, they also contain not-yet published articles such as working papers or discussion papers. Grey literature (literature that does not belong to literature houses that publish publications from institutions, associations, universities or governments) can also be used, but it should be noted that the quality needs to be checked and reviewed.
To narrow or widen the search requests, the following logical operators can be used to help:

  • Logical operator AND: Connects two search words to show exclusively documents that contain both terms
  • Logical operator OR: Connects two search words, so that only documents will be shown that include one or both terms
  • Logical operator NOT: Excludes search words and only shows documents that do not contain the term
  • Placeholder “*”: Terms with a * at the end search for words of the same word origin, but with different endings
  • Placeholder “?”: Search terms with a “?” instead of one or two letters search for different typesetting or grammatical forms
  • Phrase search: To search for terms that contain several words, a quote sign can be used to mark them as connected

Furthermore, bibliographies of already known and relevant literature can be used to look for further literature. For this, it should be noted that it would be best to start with recent literature, as they only contain exclusively older literature in their bibliography. This system should not be used as the only way of research, as it contains the risk of overlooking important literature.
The relevance of literature can quickly be obtained by the title and the abstract as well as the publication date. Literature is only considered as current if it is younger than ten years. Thus, older literature should only be used in fundamental literature.


  • Brink, Alfred: Anfertigung wissenschaftlicher Arbeiten: Ein prozessorientierter Leitfaden zur Erstellung von Bachelor-, Master und Diplomarbeiten. 5. Auflage, Springer Verlag, Dodrecht, 2013.
  • Niedermair, Klaus: Recherchieren und Dokumentieren: Der richtige Umgang mit Literatur im Studium. UVK-Verlag, 2010.

  • Sandberg, Berit: Wissenschaftliches Arbeiten von Abbildung bis Zitat: Lehr- und Übungsbuch für Bachelor, Master und Promotion. 2. Auflage, Oldenbourg Verlag, München, 2013.



Was machen, wenn über das Uninetz kein Zugriff besteht?

If access to articles or document is not possible via university network, there are several possibilities to obtain the wanted document. It can either be found via  Fernleihe (Interlibrary loan) via Databases of the joint library network (GBV) or via  direct book delivery services like Subito. Both of those options are not available for free. A last option would be to contact the author directly through social networks, such as ResearchGate or Academics.