In some courses you have to write a paper or a report and sometimes it is required that you search for your own material in addition to the course literature. When you write a paper you have to formulate a purpose, a question or a problem that you must answer based on the course literature and the literature that you are looking for. Papers or reports often have a similar structure to a thesis.
What am I expected to do?
Start by reading the instructions in the assignment and interpreting the task. Interpreting the task is an essential part of the writing process as it will influence the quality and relevance of your writing. You can read about this on the Library’s webpage The Writing Process
If this is the first paper or report you have written, it may be helpful to familiarize yourself with the unique structure of an academic text.
It is also important to know what distinguishes an academic text from other types of texts.
For example, watch these films:
Linnaeus University offers various templates that you can use when writing papers / reports or essays.
How do I find a topic and formulate a purpose?
To be able to narrow down a subject area, you need to acquaint yourself with the subject area. It may be a good idea to skim through the course literature. You can also get help from various Encyclopedias and dictionaries to define and find definitions of topics in order to get an orientation/overview of a subject.
How do I formulate a purpose?
Once you have chosen your topic and have an idea of what type of research you want to do, it is time to be more specific and write down your purpose. The purpose tells you what it is you want to investigate.
If you have an idea for a purpose, you can try a test search:
- To get an idea of whether there is material on the subject
- To get ideas on how you can narrow down the purpose
Formulate your question
Sometimes you can narrow down the purpose with one or more questions, that is, clarifying exactly what you want to research.
Once you know what you want to investigate, the process of searching and writing begins which is often not a linear process. It is rare that you first search for all the material and then start writing. Often, you will notice during the writing process that you need more material. It is easier for you to search for material if you have familiarized yourself on the subject area.
Do I need method books?
General research methodology
Example: research method*
Subject-specific research methodology
Example: “research method*” AND psychology
Specific method or methodological approach
Example: "systematic review", interview*, “Qualitative method*”
Papers and reports can be different depending on the subject. Sometimes you are expected to carry out your own survey, for example in the form of interviews, questionnaires or a literature study, and then you may need to search for method books.
You can find books about research methodology mainly in Onesearch. Limit your search to books only.
How do I find previous research?
The search process consists of several different steps. It is important that you start from the question when you search for previous research. One mistake that many people make is to start searching immediately without formulating their question, finding good keywords or thinking about which database is most suitable. Having a structured search strategy will save you time in the long- run. So try not to skip any of the important steps at the beginning.
Look at the model - where are you in your information retrieval process?
Start by getting an overview of the different steps in the search process and what you need to think through before you start searching.
You can start by getting an overview of the steps in the search process. The following film goes through the various steps and provides more tips and advice.
Find good keywords
The first step in doing a good search is to find keywords that cover your chosen subject area. Your research question should be your starting point to find relevant keywords. In the following video, you will get tips on how you can work on getting good keywords.
Translate your search words
Almost all research results are published in English, including results from for example Swedish researchers. You should therefore always translate your search words into English.
Why do I have to translate my search words into English?
Start by going to the University Library's databases and subject resources, where you can get tips on suitable databases and how to search in them.
Keep the following in mind when choosing a database:
- Different databases contain different types of material, so think about what kind of material you want to find and choose a database based on this.
- A subject database often gives you fewer hits, but with higher relevance, than a general database or a search engine such as Google Scholar.
The following film shows the advantages and disadvantages of each search service.
When you search in a general database that contains several different topics, it is important that you try to limit yourself to your subject area. Always explore the possibilities of filtering your search results.
Search techniques for good results
There are three common and basic search techniques that you can use: truncation, phrase search and search with Boolean operators (also called combination search). The search techniques work in most databases, but always look in the database's help section if you are unsure how to search in it.
On our website Search tips, you get advice on how to improve your searches.
Manage your hit list
When searching a database, you can usually filter the hit list in different ways. Common filtering options are peer review, year of publication and topic, which means that the number of hits decreases while their relevance increases.
When you search for scientific material, it is easier if you limit yourself to "Peer Reviewed", ie to articles that are published in scientific journals.
If the first 15-20 hits in the list do not seem relevant - try adjusting your search and try again.
How do I get the material?
Many of our databases are reference databases, which means that you will only find information about the article, but not the full article. You can then search further and see if Linnaeus University has access to the publication via another site.
If you can’t find the full article - try the following steps:
- If there is a button in the article entry called "Fulltext/PDF" Always start by clicking on it.
- If the button is missing, try searching for the article title in OneSearch.
- If the full article is missing in OneSearch, go to Google Scholar and search for the article title again.
- If the steps above do not result in showing the article in full, you can borrow the material from another university library. Borrowing books from other libraries is free in the Nordic countries, while articles cost money. The time it takes for you to receive the material depends on the type of material and where it is coming from.
You can also download the Library Access plugin to your browser on your computer. It helps easily see if Linnaeus University has access to the full text or e-book, regardless of where you search online and if you are on or off campus. On the following page, you can download Library Access.
How and where can I use the material?
Different types of material can be used in different places in a paper / report. Usually, a distinction is made between material that is scientific and those that are not. Non-scientific material can be used in the introduction and / or the general background, while the scientific material is used in the other parts of an paper or report. There are often requirements that you should use scientific material, eg scientific articles in your study such as a paper or report.
How do I write an academic text?
When you start working with your material, you will probably need to search for new material throughout the writing process. The writing and searching process is not linear-this means that you will go back and forth many times between writing and searching. You will write on several different parts of your paper / report at the same time, for example make notes for things you want to address in different sections. In other words, you create a skeleton that follows the different parts of your papers / report.
A paper / report is an academic text that requires a particular outline and language. In the Writing Guide, you will find reviews of the different parts of the academic text and examples of what to keep in mind when writing such a text.
The following films give general advice on what you should think about when you are writing a thesis so readers can easily follow your reasoning, follow the different steps in the research process and be able to navigate your text easily.
The film Structuring a text around the three-part essay provides an overall introduction to the different parts of the essay.
Academic language should be objective and concise. The Manchester Phrasebank is a resource that gives you some examples of how to write when you want to show different language functions such as when you want to show: comparison, contrast, transitions etc.
In these films, you get an introduction and examples of how to write an academic text.
How do I reference?
An important part of academic writing is to correctly reference within the text and in the reference list at the end of the paper.
You should reference/cite a source every time you write about someone else's work in your own words, use someone else's theory, idea, method, data or copy phrases, sentences, pictures, diagrams or tables.
In the anti-plagiarism guide Refero, you will learn more about how to refer correctly and avoid plagiarism. On our website Writing references you will find more information and links to different referencing systems.
What can I do if I feel stuck in my studies?
Don’t hesitate to contact the University Library if you have questions.
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