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In this blog post, we would like to introduce you to the library’s Search team and share some of our experiences and best advice about how to refine your searches in order to find what you are looking for.
Behind every literature search there is not only a host of algorithms but also a human being. Is it not the searcher who could be said to have most experience of what is searched? Because after all, the searcher is also the one who finds – or put differently, the searcher knows what could possibly be found.
However, a researcher sometimes needs to get on track with his or her searches. This applies to PhD students and senior researchers alike. That is why the Search team at LiU is here to help you sharpen your search skills. No matter where you are in the research process, you are welcome to contact us – but it is an advantage if you have prepared a research inquiry to get as much as possible out of your session with us.
It is also important to have realistic expectations. The library can provide guidance in systematic literature searches, which means that we do not conduct searches for you but show you how to search as efficiently as possible yourself. The library can help you to search more efficiently, but doing searches often requires a lot of work. After all, well-structured searches are more than a quick Google search.
The Search team’s members are Joakim Westerlund, Magdalena Öström, Kerstin Annerbo, Marie-Louise Axelsson, Isolina Ek and Cia Gustrén.
Creativity and hard work
Joakim Westerlund provides search guidance for researchers at the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences in various search topics and areas – both larger, systematic searches, introductions and repetitions for new as well as experienced researchers in the field of medicine.
Joakim has worked with searches of different kinds, within different subjects and with different intensity during the whole of his career as a librarian, which is now 24 years. His professional search expertise is within medicine, but he also has a background within technology and the natural sciences.
Joakim emphasizes that creativity, or sometimes “thinking unusual thoughts,” is important but that searching also means hard work. It is a challenge, which also makes it all the fun.
The value of collaboration
Magdalena Öström guides and supports researchers in literature searches within the social sciences (law, economics), behavioural sciences (psychology, pedagogy), natural sciences and technology.
With many years of experience from different units of the University Library as well as the Library of the Swedish National Road and Transport Research Institute (VTI), she has developed an eye for the field of interdisciplinary studies. Professional life has also given her the insight that researchers’ specific subject expertise along with librarians’ skills in information searching, provide added value to the collaborative work of searching for information in a more structured or systematic manner.
Different experiences and backgrounds
Kerstin Annerbo has worked at LiU for more than 20 years. Her current position is mainly directed towards research support. As a member of the Search team, she guides and teaches in information searching and search-related issues within most subjects except law and medicine.
Kerstin agrees that searches require creativity as well as systematicity and patience. Subject specific knowledge and language skills will help, as well as familiarity with search resources, search strategies and techniques. But the primary subject expertise is in the hands of the researcher. This is what makes for good collaboration between researchers and librarians.
The different backgrounds and experiences of the members in the Search team, who also cooperate and work together, is a strength as well. Kerstin, and the rest of us too, wish that more PhD students and senior researchers would find it easy to contact the us whenever they have search-related questions, whether they are minor or of a more comprehensive kind. Or why not book a session with the library for your research group or department?
The importance of documentation
Marie-Louise Axelsson at Campus Valla Library offers search guidance within the behavioural sciences, social sciences and humanities, whereas Isolina Ek at Medical Library mainly guides researchers at the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences and offers introductions to reference management software like EndNote. Isolina has worked as a librarian within the area of health care for more than 20 years, both at the university library and the hospital’s library.
Both Isolina and Marie-Louise underscore the importance of careful documentation for every search. This affects the final result of the search process. A literature search must be done in several batches, with several complementary searches that add to each other. Documentation facilitates that process. It is also important to document searches for your own benefit, since it is virtually impossible to reconstruct a search afterwards, unless you have saved it and documented how you went about it.
Information searches impact research results
Cia Gustrén has worked as a librarian in the Search team at Campus Norrköping Library since January 2022. Except for being a librarian, she has spent more than 20 years in the academic world and received a doctoral degree in media and communication studies in 2021.
Cia mainly provides search guidance within the humanities, behavioural sciences and social sciences. Above all, she has learned that information searching of the more structured or systematic kind can be a crucial fundament for research as well as the formulation of a research inquiry and eventually research results. Librarians are skilled information searchers and Cia highly recommends researchers to consult the library for good advice whenever they need it.
Her advice is to try different search terms and strategies in order to find those that yield the desired result. Searching is far from a linear process – it can vary depending on which databases or other resources you use. Also, let your search take the time and effort that it requires.
That was a quick introduction to the Search team. Do not hesitate to contact us in case you have any questions. You can reach us through the form Search support for researchers.
the search team at Linköping University Library