Where can I find scientific papers

Literature research like a pro: databases and sources


Anna Milena von Gersdorff is an online marketing expert who heads the GWriters blog as well as all publications, changes and special promotions on our website. In addition, she is responsible for all public relations and communication with our media partners.

Many students have difficulties in researching the literature for a scientific paper. Often they do not know how to proceed with the literature research. One quickly comes to the question: How can I find scientific literature? Above all, find literature for homework? What is a scientific source? What are sources good for anyway? Which database for scientific articles is there? Where can I find scientific articles? Where can I find literature online? Which sources do I use? Which sources can I use within a literature research and a scientific paper?

The answers to all these questions can be found in this article, in which we introduce you to the topic of “literature research” with a focus on scientific sources and databases. So that a systematic literature search can be carried out, the topic must be examined using sources and in scientific databases. We will give you an initial overview of the common scientific databases and will go into more detail about the essential and most important databases. As a professional ghostwriting agency with a focus on the creation of scientific texts, this topic is one of our core competencies at GWriters. This means that we know the current state of research in every subject area and that we have access to all relevant scientific databases and thus to scientific sources.

In 4 steps to the perfect literature research:

  1. Determine the research question and the objective of the work

  2. Get a rough overview with Google

  3. Select the appropriate source for the literature research

  4. Find correct scientific databases

Literature research: Find the right scientific source in 4 steps

Step 1: Determine the research question and the objective of the work

At the beginning you need to determine what you want to achieve with your scientific work. What is your scientific research question? Or have you already found a research gap that has not yet been addressed? If you know which topic you want to research, then you can get an overview of your topic.

Step 2: Get a rough overview of sources in Google

In the age of the internet, Google can be a wonderful help and support. Of course, you should note that not all results of Google search are suitable as scientific sources. A good example of this would be the source Wikipedia, which can always be found quickly in any literature search on Google. Internet users can create their own entries on Wikipedia or modify existing entries, so that the reliability of the information available there is very questionable. Therefore, you should be careful and assume that you have to check every result of your Google search for its scientific nature before using it in your homework. Ideally, you should therefore use the Google search results for a first rough overview.

Step 3: Select the appropriate source for the literature research

So that we can use scientific databases, we should know beforehand which scientific text sources are suitable for our research question. Because different types of sources can be found in different databases or can only be reached via alternative locations that can be found via Google search.

Scientific journals and newspapers as a source

Scientific journals can, for example, be high-quality newspaper articles, such as the Handelsblatt and the stock exchange newspapers, such as the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. Journals are also publications published by publishers in which scientific authors write their own articles and discuss scientific topics. Here again it can be special trade journals. There are special journals on different topics in which research is only carried out on this one topic. Such scientific articles from these journals can in turn be used as a source in scientific papers.

Books and compilations as a source

Books and monographs are used as further scientific sources. Book sources can be very useful in the basic work to be able to build on. In compilations you will also find scientific elaborations by several authors on different but related topics. Volumes and articles can again be part of compilations, in which you can find relevant information and scientific literature related to your topic.

Bachelor, master theses and dissertations as a source

A frequently used, legitimate and important source are dissertations, master's theses or bachelor theses. Although these can be viewed and used as a guide when searching for literature, the guidelines for scientific work from many universities state that quoting from a dissertation, bachelor's or master's thesis is prohibited. These theses can only be used as a source in exceptional cases. Only if these theses have been published in several libraries and are easily accessible can they be used as a scientific source. However, theses written by other students provide excellent reservoirs for scientific literature, as the literature lists contained in these papers can significantly shorten a lengthy literature search.

Tips for working with sources

In all of these sources it is important what exactly is reproduced. The respective bibliography from one source is also particularly important. This gives you the opportunity to familiarize yourself more intensively and deeply with the current state of research on the topic. This is exactly where the general guideline applies: when researching, always go from the general to the specific. For example, if you have a journal article that contains information relevant to your work, then it makes sense to go a step further and look at the bibliography. Because the information contained there can be used for your scientific work. Above all, this procedure is particularly useful in literature research, as the bibliography gives you an overview of other different sources with reference to your respective topic. You can find more similar tips from an older but irrelevant blog article here.

Step 4: Literature Research: Find Free Scientific Databases

Where can I find scientific sources? What kind of databases are there? When researching the literature, it is important to know where to find the sources you need. Books, journals, compilations, articles, essays etc. can be found on the one hand via the Internet and on the other hand in special scientific databases. Finding free scientific sources on the Internet is usually difficult. In the following we explain which free scientific databases are available for different sources.

What databases are there?

Literature database: University library

Your university grants you free access to scientific databases. The literature research in the databases of universities depends on your subject area, because the universities offer different databases on different subject areas. You can also search for sources in the reference library of your university. In addition, universities enable remote access to these libraries, which is particularly important in the current corona pandemic and, accordingly, in e-learning from home. Some university libraries: Darmstadt University of Applied Sciences, ULB Technical University Darmstadt, HLB University of Fulda etc.

Journal databases: EZB

Where can students find suitable scientific journals? Another database is the EZB (Electronic Journal Library). The EZB is a journal library located at the University of Regensburg. You can also access this database via the Internet. As a student, you receive free access if you identify yourself through your university. This gives you one of the most extensive access to almost all European and sometimes worldwide newspapers and magazines. Access to the ECB in the academic field is particularly important, as many English-language sources and information are also available there.

Well-known scientific databases:

In addition to the actual scientific databases, we would like to introduce you to two of the best-known and largest scientific databases.

Citations and literature databases: Web of Science

The Web of Science is a paid database with several scientific information, citations and literature databases. There you can search for English-language titles either with a simple search mask or with a more complex search mask that allows further filters and restrictions. A complex search mask enables an extended search in the fields such as title, author, journal title and institute affiliation of an author. In addition, the literature search can also be limited in time. However, the search language of this database is recorded in English, as all titles have been or are being translated into English.

Literature database: Springer Link

Another tip for literature research is Springer Link. Springer Link is the literature database of the Springer and Gabler publishing house with branches in Berlin, Heidelberg, Wiesbaden and New York. Springer Link enables you to view scientific literature on the Internet and, if necessary, to download it as an e-book. This scientific database is an extensive, high-quality and high-quality database, but it has one limitation: it only contains titles from Springer-Verlag. Springer-Verlag not only provides books, but also a large number of journals, specialist journals and specialist newspapers. If you are a registered user or have a user account through your university, you can download a large number of free scientific sources as e-books.

In some cases, this database is also chargeable. This has to do with the fact that the authors do not provide their rights or that the literature is completely new. The advantage is that you then have the work on your computer at home and it does not take up any space on the bookshelf. Compared to other databases, the prices of scientific sources in the Springer Link database are reasonable.

Tips for working with databases

In addition to these two possibilities of scientific databases, there are many more. In any case, you should focus on those that your university makes available and that your professor or supervisor advises you.

Important help for literature research: Google Scholar

Another recommended tool for literature research is Google Scholar. What is Google Scholar? Google Scholar is basically a scientific Google. If you search for information with Google Scholar, you will get significantly fewer search results and information than if you search purely via Google. But for that you get more specific information in the form of scientific sources. You will also receive information on where a topic was cited, for example, and you can also get citation links displayed, which you can then use for further research. Google Scholar also shows complete books, monographs and, in some cases, specialist journals and offers the option of downloading these sources as PDF or as an excerpt. This function of Google Scholar is a great help and an extremely valuable offer for literature research.

Tips for working with scientific sources

Do you want to save time citing scientific sources?

It is particularly helpful in scientific databases that software interfaces for automatic citations and for automatic referencing are often made available. This means that you no longer have to laboriously type the source in your scientific work. To do this, you can, for example, work with “Citavi”, “Endnote”, “Zotero” or other tools with which you can create a corresponding bibliography for your thesis. With one click, the literature is automatically imported into your scientific work with all sources and all information.

In addition, these tools have different citation methods. You can cite your sources according to the APA citation style, the Harvard citation style or the German style. This saves you more time at work. You will notice that the more and the more intensively you deal with your scientific work, the more precisely you will know what you need to research in which database or which sources you can find in which database. You can find more tips on how to cite under "How to cite literature sources correctly".

External help: Free offer from the ghostwriter

If you need help researching information or using the relevant databases, GWriters is happy to be your contact. We offer support in the form of coaching, create templates for scientific work with high-quality sources or check and proofread your own work. Contact GWriters now to receive an individual offer for professional support for your project within a few hours.

Good luck with your literature research with a focus on the use of sources and databases.

Remember: if you go from general to specific and practice using these databases and sources, it will be much easier over time to find and process information and sources that are relevant to your work.