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Turku University Library

Basics of Information Seeking

Search for Scholarly Information

Wordcloud with different information seeking words.

Welcome to the Basics of Information Seeking!
This guide will help you to:

  1. Plan your search,
  2. Execute your search,
  3. Evaluate your search results
  4. Locate resources
  5. Use information ethically, and
  6. Learn about reference management, RSS and research data.

Information Retrieval Process

Information retrieval is a process that often includes the steps presented in the figure below.

  • The process starts with a topic or a problem to which you need to find an answer.
  • When planning the information retrieval, you should identify the key concepts of the topic as well as the suitable search words and their synonyms, create a search phrase and choose the databases you will use.
  • In the implementation phase of your information retrieval, you will conduct the search in the databases you have chosen and might still return to edit your search words/phrases.
  • When evaluating the search results, you evaluate the success of your information retrieval and edit the search if necessary.
  • When you are satisfied with the information retrieval, you will choose the resources you need and locate the publications.
  • In the end, you will interpret and evaluate the found information and use it according to good scientific practice.
  • Information retrieval is not always a linear process. You may need to return to earlier phases multiple times before you are able to find what you are looking for.

Decorative, all the information is listed above.

Don't Give Up!

Studies suggest that you may experience various emotions during the information retrieval process. In-depth information retrieval on a certain topic, for a thesis for instance, might be frustrating when good sources seem impossible to find. This may result in the entire writing process coming to a halt. Experiencing uncertainty is usual as well; has nothing been written on this topic or am I just unable to find the information?

When the information retrieval comes to a halt, you shouldn’t give up. Instead, go back a couple of steps in the information retrieval process. Think about alternative words to describe the topic and spend time searching for keywords from different sources. In addition, consider whether the database you’re using is the best possible one or would other databases contain better resources.

The joy of finding a good resource is also part of information retrieval. While you search for information and browse the resources, your understanding of your topic also deepens and your research question may become better focused.

Remember that you don’t need to tackle the problems of information retrieval alone. You can reach the library information specialists at